101 Cook County Jail inmates tested positive for coronavirus as of Sunday night, while nine tested negative and 93 others are waiting for test results.
In addition, 12 employees from the sheriff’s office also tested positive for the deadly virus.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart made the announcement Friday, and said, “We knew, between people being asymptomatic and staff coming in and out every day, that this was going to happen.”
The announcement made about confirmed new cases marks the rapid spread of the virus in a single jail site.
“Jails in this country are petri dishes. They’re the government equivalent of nursing homes or cruise ships,” Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle said, “It’s very difficult in a jail to maintain social distancing.”
This is why they made efforts to minimize the number of detainees – screening and releasing non-violent defendants awaiting trial.
Preckwinkle added, “We’re focusing on those who are elderly and in frail health, pregnant woman, people who were accused of nonviolent crimes who have bails of less a thousand dollars who haven’t been able to pay them.”
The jail has cut down its population to 5,000 inmates, and they will allow every inmate to have his or her own cell within the next couple of days, except for those who face mental health issues.
To keep COVID-19 infected detainees from spreading the disease, Dart ordered to reopen an old barracks within the facility, to be utilized as an isolation facility and a hospital for inmates who tested positive for COVID-19.
Numerous tents was setup up on the property where medical professionals would triage detainees before assigning them to a specific building.
“There isn’t even close to a playbook, there’s nothing,” Dart said, “I mean I tried to find one, whether it was from the feds or the locals. Everyone basically said ‘hey, you’re on your own.”