Individuals in Custody Test Positive for COVID-19

Mar 23, 2020Press Release

Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced that two individuals in custody have tested positive for COVID-19.

The individuals in custody tested positive on Monday, March 23, and are currently being held in isolation cells at Cermak Health Services, where they have been housed since exhibiting flu-like symptoms on March 20.

One of the individuals in custody, age 42, has been in custody since late December 2019 after he was ordered held in lieu of $250,000 D-bond on charges of Aggravated DUI. He was housed in the Residential Treatment Unit at the time he became symptomatic.

The second individual in custody, age 18, has been in custody since mid-February 2020 after he was ordered held without bail on charges of Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm. He was housed in Division VI at the time he became symptomatic.

Cermak staff continue to test anyone with flu-like symptoms.

Cermak staff are closely monitoring the individuals in custody on the living units where the individuals who tested positive were housed.

The entire jail compound continues to undergo regular, comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting. All individuals in custody have access to soap and water and are educated on how to spot and report symptoms of the virus in themselves or others.

On Sunday, Sheriff Dart announced that a correctional officer, who had worked in the Residential Treatment Unit, had tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation at home.

Sheriff Dart has instituted a number of measures at the jail to prevent the spread of the virus such as suspending individual in custody visits, creating housing tiers for new individuals in custody booked at the jail where they are observed for seven days for symptoms of the virus, and consulting with Harry Grenawitzke, an environmental health expert and former Department of Justice monitor.

One week ago, in anticipation of what was happening around the country, Sheriff Dart readied barracks formerly used for an individual in custody bootcamp program to be opened as additional isolation housing for individuals in custody 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 individuals in custody become ill with COVID-19.