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Responding to the Pandemic: PbS Issue Brief 1: Testing Practices, June 2021

NCJ Number
Kim Godfrey Lovett
Date Published
June 2021
1 page

This report from the Performance-based Standards (PbS) Program - which collects data on criminal justice facility operations, conditions, services, and quality of life – presents data related to the COVID-19 pandemic for the month of April 2021 in 148 juvenile correctional facilities across the United States.


In that month, just over 2,250 youth and about 7,000 staff were tested for the COVID-19 virus in facilities that were participating in the PbS program. One year into the pandemic, data from these 148 facilities showed a 4-percent positive test rate for the virus among youth residents and less than 2 percent among staff. PbS requested additional pandemic-related data from the participants in 32 states to better understand and track practices and policies related to COVID-19 prevention, testing, and positive testing rates. The data will be collected again in October 2021 for comparison. In April, only one facility experienced more than 20 positive cases among youths. Most facilities (84 percent) reported no positive tests for youth, and 64 percent of facilities reported no positive tests among staff. A total of 23 facilities reported one or more youth who tested positive, and 52 facilities reported one or more staff who tested positive. The spread of COVID-19 was not apparently related to the location, size, or type of facility. Juvenile justice agencies used several testing strategies in attempting to mitigate the spread of the virus. Some of these testing strategies are described in this report. Most staff were tested when exhibiting symptoms (85 percent) or after having been exposed to a positive case or because of contact tracing (56 percent). PbS will continue to analyze the data and share the lessons learned. 1 figure