Chicago, IL — As coronavirus cases continue to rise in the country, Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois has recorded the highest number of cases in a single area in the entire country. They have had a total of over 355 cases since the pandemic started – 238 inmates and 115 staff members.
The outbreak of the virus apparently started from 2 inmates who were the first ones to test positive for COVID-19 about two weeks ago.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail which is one of the country’s largest with more than 4,500 inmates, noted that the numbers could increase even more as a vast majority of the inmates have yet been tested.
The inmates who have tested positive have already been placed in a quarantine area, while at least 17 who had complicated symptoms have been hospitalized. One inmate who is COVID-19 positive apparently died of complications from the coronavirus, officials said.
“This has been a difficult time for everyone,” Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart told the New York Times.
The rapid transmission of the coronavirus behind bars have been linked to the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in jails that allegedly helped spread the virus. According to reports, at least 1,324 coronavirus cases are from U.S. jails, including at least 32 deaths.
In line with that, some authorities were prompted to release thousands of inmates who were mostly awaiting trial or sentenced for nonviolent crimes to decrease the prison population. Visitations have been prohibited also to prevent further spread to people outside the prison.