Florida Department of Juvenile Justice reports a youth at Okeechobee Youth Development Center tested positive for COVID-19

TALLAHASSEE – A youth at the Okeechobee Youth Development Center has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report released May 12 by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

Statewide, seven youth in juvenile facilities have tested postive for COVID-19, according to the report.

The county health departments and/or each facility’s designated health authority determine when youth should be tested for COVID-19 based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testing criteria. Youth inside juvenile detention centers and residential commitment programs are continuously being monitored and screened for symptoms and if a youth becomes symptomatic, he or she is isolated from other youth and the facility’s designated health authority is contacted.

All staff that work inside DJJ facilities are screened daily on every shift prior to entering the facility and if a staffer presents with symptoms, he or she is denied entry and is instructed to contact their health care provider. Staff will not be permitted to return to work until cleared by a medical professional. Outside vendors and personnel continue to be screened daily prior to entry.

The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has coordinated a proactive and comprehensive response to keep all youth and staff safe. In response to this pandemic, DJJ took the following actions:

• Developed a COVID-19 guidance for all facilities serving DJJ youth, including CDC criteria on how to assess and care for youth exhibiting flu-like symptoms and environmental cleaning and disinfection recommendations;

• Modified screening protocols and procedures for youth taken into custody by law enforcement who are brought to juvenile assessment centers and detention screening units to include precautionary coronavirus screening questions and protocols;

• Instituted additional screening measures for outside vendors and personnel who work within juvenile facilities;

• Issued an emergency order suspending visitation at all state-operated juvenile detention centers and juvenile residential commitment programs. Both detention centers and residential commitment programs have worked diligently to maintain regular telephone communication, and if feasible video conferencing, between youth and their families; and,

• Developed and disseminated pandemic plans for all state-operated juvenile detention centers. Residential commitment providers have developed individual plans for juvenile residential commitment programs. All plans are in keeping with CDC guidelines.

Ongoing measures include the following:

• Youth entering into a juvenile detention facility must first complete a precautionary clearance form, which has been adapted to cover the symptoms and screening questions for COVID-19. All youth admitted into a residential commitment program are screened prior to leaving the detention center and then again upon their arrival to the residential commitment program.

• All staff that work at state-operated juvenile detention centers and residential commitment programs are screened daily on every shift prior to entering the facility. If a staff presents with symptoms, he or she is denied entry and instructed to contact their health care provider. Staff will not be permitted to return to work until cleared by a medical professional. Outside vendors and personnel continue to be screened daily prior to entry.
State-operated juvenile detention centers and residential commitment programs have all implemented cleaning and sanitation plans to reduce the risk of spreading or contaminating surfaces.

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