Sheriff’s Office Suspends In-Person Visits at Cook County Jail

The Cook County sheriff’s office announced Sunday it will be suspending in-person visits at the Cook County Jail in hopes of warding off another coronavirus outbreak as cases rise across the county.

The suspension is effective Monday, the sheriff’s office announced, citing the rising case numbers.

As Well As The Stay-At-Home Advisory.

“For months, detainees were able to safely meet with family and friends. Like detainees, the people who visit them come from the community, where current test positivity rates for Chicago and Cook County are at 15.6% and 15.2% respectively.”

Sheriff Tom Dart implored people to take coronavirus precautions seriously, saying that an outbreak in the community could eventually enter the jail.

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Containing COVID-19: Jails, Prisons Ripe for Spread

Early in the pandemic, reports characterized the Cook County Jail as a congregate setting hot spot for the coronavirus.

Sheriff Tom Dart’s office disputes that, and said it’s because the jail was doing testing for COVID-19 before other places, so it’s not a fair measurement.

Regardless, Dart and the jail’s medical director Dr. Connie Mennella say they took quick action to contain the virus – temperature checks, mask mandates, moving detainees to single occupancy cells, more testing – and got it under control such that the positivity rate at the jail is now lower than it is in wider Cook County.

But as cases are exploding outside, they’re ticking up within the jail.

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