Update on COVID-19 Cases at Cook County Jail

Mar 29, 2021Press Release

COOK COUNTY, IL – Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart is again urging the public to continue to follow precautions which reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to get vaccinated as eligibility for the vaccine expands.

As of today, just nine of the more than 5,600 individuals in custody at the Jail are currently positive for COVID19, and these individuals all tested positive during intake, meaning that they were positive prior to their arrival. 1500 COVID-19 tests are conducted each week at the Cook County Jail.

Measures to fight the virus have proven greatly successful at Cook County Jail, which continues to show positivity rates and cases-per-capita numbers that are much lower than in the surrounding community. Unfortunately, the number of new cases is again on the rise in Chicago and Cook County, after several months of consistent progress in lowering the number of cases.

“This is another important period in the battle against COVID-19 and the public cannot grow complacent,” said Sheriff Dart. “The Jail successfully fought off the surge everyone experienced in the Fall and Winter but we are one County, and each person’s actions affect us all. Masks and social distancing are shown to work, and we continue to offer vaccines to every individual in custody and staff member.”

A study by Yale and Stanford Universities found that the measures implemented by Sheriff Dart and his staff at the Jail, which exceed public health recommendations, prevented thousands of COVID-19 infections, hundreds of hospitalizations, and dozens of deaths in just the first three months of the outbreak.

In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lauded Cook County Jail’s efforts as “effective…dynamic and aggressive…timely” and having “slowed the spread relative to the surrounding community even as cases there surged.”

Vaccination remains a major priority of the Sheriff’s Office and Jail staff continue to work daily with its medical provider, Cermak Health Services to ensure that vaccinations are provided as quickly as possible. Staff from both agencies continue to educate both staff and individuals in custody on the importance of being vaccinated, and enforce the interventions – including social distancing, mask usage, heightened cleaning and sanitation protocols, and widespread testing – as well as new advancements such as wastewater surveillance testing, that have proven effective at significantly reducing COVID-19 transmission at Jail.

“When we work together and follow the recommendations of public health experts, we make great progress in defeating this pandemic,” Dart said. “We have done it before and we can do it again, but not without a renewed commitment to testing, following precautions and vaccinations.”