CHICAGO (CBS) — Concerns about keeping COVID-19 out of Cook County Jail; Sheriff Tom Dart said Thursday morning that growing cases in surrounding communities could lead to more infections in the jail.

Dart urged community members to do their part to keep everyone safe.

“If the community is not under control, if the community is not being serious about masks, and social distancing, and that, and COVID is spreading, it will impact us negatively. There’s no two ways about it,” Dart said.

The sheriff’s office said it has been taking protective steps for detainees and jail employees since the outbreak began.

Dart said the virus is not widespread in the jail, and that most inmates there who are positive came into the jail positive.

According to the sheriff’s office, as of Wednesday night, 83 inmates in the jail were positive for COVID-19. Another 525 current inmates who previously tested positive have since tested negative and are being monitored at the jail’s recovery facility.

Since the start of the pandemic, seven inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.

In addition, 64 correctional officers currently are positive for the virus, as well as 55 other Cook County Sheriff’s employees.

Another 610 employees who previously tested positive have recovered and returned to work. Four correctional officers and a sheriff’s deputy died from the virus earlier this year.

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