Seventeen detainees in the Cook County Jail had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday evening (March 25).
Another 31 individuals have been tested after exhibiting flu-like symptoms and results are pending, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
Four members of the correctional staff and a Sheriff’s Police deputy have also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Two detainees have tested negative for the virus.
Cermak Hospital staff are monitoring the detainees in the living units where the infected detainees were housed and will test anyone who is symptomatic, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The entire jail compound continues to undergo regular, comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting, Sheriff Tom Dart said, adding that all detainees do have access to soap and water.
Staff have been educated on how to spot and report symptoms of the virus, he said.
Dart has instituted measures at the jail to prevent the spread of the virus such as suspending detainee visits, creating housing tiers for new inmates booked at the jail where they are observed for seven days for symptoms of the virus. Sheriff Dart has also acquired the assistance of Harry Grenawitzke, a national environmental health expert and former U.S. Department of Justice monitor.
Earlier this month, in anticipation of what was happening around the country, Dart readied barracks formerly used for an inmate bootcamp program to be opened as additional isolation housing for detainees, if needed. The bootcamp, which is located away from the main jail campus, has a capacity of 500 beds and will serve to relieve pressure on Cermak Hospital.
The Sheriff’s Office is prepared to respond in the event additional staff or detainees become ill with COVID-19, Dart said.