BOP COVID-19 Operational Levels

This page provides a general overview about BOP COVID-19 Operational Levels: how they are determined, how operations are affected, and related resources.

About Operational Levels

Institutions determine their operational level (Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3) based on the facilities' COVID-19 medical isolation rate, combined percentage of staff and inmate completed vaccinations series, and their respective community transmission rates1.

At each level, an infection prevention procedure or modification to operations (such as inmate programming and services) may be made to mitigate the risk and spread of COVID-19 in accordance with BOP pandemic guidance. BOP pandemic guidance follows and integrates guidance and direction from CDC, OSHA, DOJ, and established medical best practices

Level Rating Procedure

  1. Institutions determine their operational level and modifications based on the facilities' COVID-19 medical isolation rate, combined percentage of staff and inmate completed vaccinations series, and their respective county transmission rates (see specific indicators below).
  2. The Health Services Administrator (or designee) will review the COVID-19 Protocol Matrix Data dashboard daily and communicate the facility's operational level to the institution Executive Staff and Operations Lieutenant (or designee).

Level Indicators

BOP COVID-19 Operational Levels are raised or lowered after 48 hours of respective sustained increases or decreases in the following indicators:

Level 1
Level 1

IF Medical isolation rate < 2% AND Facility vaccination rate ≥ to 65% AND Community transmission rate is < 50 per 100,000 over the last 7 days

Level 2
Level 2

IF Medical isolation rate 2% to < 7% OR Facility vaccination rate 50% to < 65% OR Community transmission rate is 50-99 per 100,000 over the last 7 days

Level 3
Level 3

IF Medical isolation rate ≥ 7% OR Facility vaccination rate < to 50% OR Community transmission rate ≥ 100 per 100,000 over the last 7 days

Level-Specific Modifications

The following modifications are made depending upon the operational level of the institution.

Infection Prevention Procedures Modifications (Level-Specific)

Please note: Medical isolation, contact tracing, and PPE appropriate for each setting are still in effect for all scenarios.

Level 1 Operations Learn About Level 1 Operations Level 1 Level 2 Operations Learn About Level 2 Operations Level 2 Level 3 Operations Learn About Level 3 Operations Level 3
Cohorting Modifications not necessary Modifications not necessary if social distancing is followed Modifications necessary
Inmate Cloth Face Covering Per DOJ guidance, face covering required at all times in all indoor environments
  • Per DOJ guidance, face covering required at all times in all indoor environments
  • Face covering required when social distancing is not possible outdoors
Follow the full COVID-19 Pandemic Plan including facility-wide use of face coverings, surgical or N95 masks as indicated.
Social Distancing
  • All health care units and patient care areas
  • Not necessary in other locations
All areas All areas
Staff Cloth Face Covering Per DOJ guidance, face covering required at all times in all indoor environments (surgical mask in patient care areas).
  • Per DOJ guidance, face covering required at all times in all indoor environments (surgical mask in patient care areas).
  • Face covering is required when social distancing is not possible outdoors.
Follow the full COVID-19 Pandemic Plan including facility-wide use of face coverings, surgical or N95 masks as indicated.
Staff Symptom Screening Self monitoring/report symptoms of COVID-19 Self monitoring/report symptoms of COVID-19 Implement daily COVID-19 symptom screen and temp check prior to entry into the institution (enhanced screening)

Inmate Programming and Services Modifications (Level-Specific)

Please note: Each activity will follow the general infection prevention recommendations above unless specified otherwise below.

Level 1 Operations Learn About Level 1 Operations Level 1 Level 2 Operations Learn About Level 2 Operations Level 2 Level 3 Operations Learn About Level 3 Operations Level 3
Barber / Beauty Shop Normal operations Limit capacity to allow for social distancing Follow the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan
Commissary / Inmate Phones/ TRULINCS Normal operations
  • Limit capacity to allow for social distancing
  • Cohorting if not able to social distance.
Follow the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan
Laundry Normal operations Limit capacity to allow for social distancing Follow the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan
Law Library Normal capacity participation Limit capacity to allow for social distancing Follow the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan
Programs & Services (Education, Psychology, Religious Svs) Normal capacity participation
  • Standard housing capacity (in Residential units)
  • Limit capacity to allow for social distancing during group activities
Follow the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan
Recreation Normal capacity participation
  • Limit capacity levels to allow for social distancing indoors
  • Normal outdoor capacity participation
  • Face covering outdoors when social distancing is not possible
Follow the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan
Transport (All: Bus, Air, Van) Transportation involves an indoor environment and face covering is required at all times. Transportation involves an indoor environment and face covering is required at all times. Follow the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan
Visitation
  • Face covering is required for visitors as well as staff and inmates
  • Normal operations
  • Face covering is required for visitors as well as staff and inmates
  • Non-contact only
Follow the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan
Work Detail / Unicor Normal operations
  • Cohorting if not social distancing
  • Face covering outdoors when social distancing is not possible
Follow the COVID-19 Pandemic Plan

General Modifications

Many other general modifications, some of which are highlighted below, are in effect due to COVID-19, regardless of the facilities current operation level.

Infection Prevention Procedures Modifications (General)

  • High sanitation standards expected at all levels of operation. At a minimum, all areas, supplies, and equipment must be cleaned on a daily basis.
  • Inmates are tested for SARS-CoV-2 when they are symptomatic, asymptomatic but exposed, during movements, and when surveillance is needed.
  • Inmates with known or suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection should be provided a face covering, POC tested, and placed in medical isolation for 10 days.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, all inmates transferring to an RRC, home confinement or releasing to the community need to complete a 14-day quarantine prior to departing the institution.
  • Not fully vaccinated inmates need to complete a 14-day quarantine as new intakes or if they have a known or suspected exposure to a case of SARS-CoV-2.
  • When transferring from one BOP location to another BOP location or correctional jurisdiction, 14-day quarantine may be required; the sending institution will refer to the Inmate Movement Modifications Table below for guidance dependent on operational level.
  • All workers (staff/contractors/inmate orderlies) must wear a surgical mask in all patient care areas, whether or not there are patients in the clinic/area.

Operational Modifications (General)

  • Incarcerated/detained persons who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms of COVID-19 do not need to quarantine at intake, transfer, or following exposure to suspected or confirmed COVID-19. (Guidance from CDC)
  • Incarcerated/detained persons who are fully vaccinated should continue to be tested for SARS-CoV-2 following exposure to suspected or confirmed COVID-19, or if they develop any symptoms of COVID-19. Fully vaccinated incarcerated persons, and persons who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection during the 3-month period after their initial positive test can be exempted from movement-based screening testing if feasible. (Guidance from CDC)
  • Routine screening testing for staff and incarcerated persons who are not fully vaccinated should be conducted at least weekly when community transmission is substantial or high. (Guidance from CDC)
  • All workers (staff/contractors/inmate orderlies) must wear a surgical mask in all patient care areas, whether or not there are patients in the clinic/area. (Guidance from OSHA)
  • Face coverings will be worn at all time while indoors, regardless of vaccination status (Guidance from DOJ memo).

View more examples of how operations have been modified

Community Transmission Rate 1
Utilizing the CDC's Community Transmission Indicators at the County Level: Table 2 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/correction-detention/testing.html