CHICAGO (CBS) — As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus rise, the cases are also rising in the Cook County Jail. As of Sunday 221 detainees and 70 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office confirms. That’s up from 167 positive cases for detainees on Wednesday.
Test results are still pending for 32 detainees, and 26 have tested negative for the virus.
The first reported case at the jail, a correctional officer, was confirmed March 23.
The jail’s population is now at 4,535, the lowest it’s ever been, according to the information provided to CBS 2. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said recently this will allow the jail to have every inmate in a cell of his or her own, except for inmates who face mental health issues that require them to have a cellmate for therapeutic reasons or to reduce the risk of suicide.
Dart also recently reopened a shuttered barracks facility used for an old boot camp program, so it can be used as a hospital for inmates who test positive for COVID-19, or as an isolation facility for others who are being quarantined.
Hundreds of inmates at the Cook County Jail were fighting Wednesday to be released while they await trial amid the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds have been released due to coronavirus concerns.