Cook County Jail in Chicago is home to the highest number of coronavirus cases in a single area in the entire country.
According to Black News, the jail currently has 355 cases since the pandemic started, including 238 inmates and 115 staff members. The jail is the country’s largest with more than 4,500 inmates and the number of infected could increase even more as a vast majority of inmates have yet to be tested.
The inmates that tested positive have been isolated and 17 inmates who have significant symptoms have been hospitalized.
“I’m confident we’re going to get through this,” Sheriff Thomas J. Dart told the New York Times, “but I could really use some more definition about how long the virus can last in an environment like this.”
Prisons are one of the most vulnerable places for the coronavirus. Many jails across the U.S. are overcrowded and littered with unsanitary conditions. Add in the lack of healthcare and prisons are like a petri dish for the virus.
According to the New York Board of Corrections, 273 inmates, 321 employees, and 53 health workers, have tested positive for the virus since the outbreak began. It was also reported that Michael Tyson, a 53-year-old man who was jailed for a technical parole violation on Rikers Island, died on Sunday at Bellevue Hospital.
Law enforcement agencies across the country have begun releasing inmates that were convicted of low-level crimes in an effort to keep coronavirus cases down. New York City has released more than 900 inmates in recent days due to the virus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a March 31 press briefing.
“It is a very complicated dynamic, it’s one that we’ve literally never, dealt with before,” the mayor said last week.
At the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Michigan, 33 inmates in the facility have tested positive for coronavirus. So far, two inmates have died from the virus including one who passed away Thursday. There are 262 prisoners who have tested positive across the state.
Prisons aren’t the only institutions that risk infection. More than 700 employees at a Detroit hospital have tested positive for coronavirus. Healthcare workers and low-wage workers, including many essential workers at supermarkets, warehouses, and plants, are among the most vulnerable to be infected because they cannot telecommute and are forced to interact with the public.
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