Emerg Infect Dis

. 2024 Mar;30(13):13-16.
doi: 10.3201/eid3013.230782.
Lessons Learned from Cross-Systems Approach to COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Juvenile Justice System, Colorado, USA

Ashley M Tunstall, Shannon C O'Brien, Deborah M Monaghan, Alexis Burakoff, Renée K MarquardtAbstract

The global COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the importance of a close partnership between public health and juvenile justice systems when responding to communicable diseases. Many setting-specific obstacles must be navigated to respond effectively to limit disease transmission and negative health outcomes while maintaining necessary services for youth in confinement facilities. The response requires multidisciplinary expertise and collaboration to address unique considerations. Public health mitigation strategies must balance the risk for disease against the negative effects of restrictions. Key aspects of the COVID-19 response in the juvenile justice system of Colorado, USA, involved establishing robust communication and data reporting infrastructures, building a multidisciplinary response team, adapting existing infection prevention guidelines, and focusing on a whole-person health approach to infection prevention. We examine lessons learned and offer recommendations on pandemic emergency response planning and managing a statewide public health emergency in youth confinement settings that ensure ongoing readiness.

Keywords: COVID-19; Colorado; SARS; SARS-CoV-2; United States; adolescent; adolescent development; communicable diseases; coronavirus; coronavirus disease; correctional facilities; health disparities; juvenile justice system; minority and vulnerable populations; pandemics; residential facilities; respiratory infections; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; viruses; zoonoses.