Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Cook County has the largest unified trial court system in the world, disposing over 6 million cases in 1990 alone.
   
     
     
     



Cook County Jail releases could be spreading COVID-19 in community, study suggests
But Sheriff Tom Dart disputed the findings and said the jail has taken extensive steps to limit infections.

Thursday, June 04, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times
by Brett Chase & Matthew Hendrickson

Thousands of people who are arrested, then processed at Cook County Jail and released could be putting the public at risk of being infected with COVID-19, according to research published Thursday.

The peer-reviewed analysis, published online by the journal Health Affairs, shows that COVID-19 case rates were significantly higher in zip codes with higher rates of arrest and released jail inmates.

Eric Reinhart, a University of Chicago medical student who is on leave from Harvard, analyzed records for more than 2,000 inmates released in March that he obtained through an open-records request. He then linked that information with COVID-19 data by ZIP code from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Reinhart concluded for each person arrested, there’s a risk of infecting at least two people in the community with COVID-19, a multiplier effect estimate he called conservative.

“For every person you put in jail, you’re going to infect more people in the community,” Reinhart said in an interview.

In his analysis, the researcher said his findings may help explain “the striking racial disparities” prevalent in COVID cases.

“Although we cannot infer causality, it is possible that, as arrested individuals are exposed to high-risk spaces for infection in jails and the later released to their communities, the criminal justice system is turning them into potential disease vectors for their families, neighbors and, ultimately, the general public,” the study said.

But Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office strongly disputed the study’s findings and said officials have taken extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the virus since early outbreaks at the jail.

“This study is a fantasy filled with assumptions bordering on lies,” sheriff’s office spokesman Matthew Walberg said. “The focus is on outdated information and completely ignores the fact that as a result of our interventions, cases at the jail have dropped precipitously over the past month.”

At the end of April, state health officials reported high numbers of African-American and Latino residents tested positive for COVID-19, showing a disproportionate number of cases. While African-Americans make up 14% of the state’s population, they represented 29% of coronavirus cases.

Cases at the jail peaked at more than 300 cases around that time.

“It shows that this infection within the jail cannot be contained within the jail’s walls,” Alexa Van Brunt, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center who is representing detainees in a class-action lawsuit against Dart, said of the study. “The jail is part of the community and the failure of the jail to protect detainees puts the community in danger.”

A federal judge in April denied the lawsuit’s request for a court order to release or transfer elderly and medically compromised detainees during the outbreak, but approved a series of measures to reduce the spread of the virus, including directing the jail to house most detainees in single-cells and conduct widespread coronavirus testing — steps the sheriff’s office says it was already taking.

Last month, Dart warned those measures might not be enough if the jail saw its usual influx of inmates during the summer months. Van Brunt said the study showed that if the sheriff cannot socially distance detainees, more should be released. “What is clear is that this emergency is not over … and we’re likely to see another outbreak,” Van Brunt said.

Sharlyn Grace, executive director of the Chicago Community Bond Fund, a nonprofit that posts bond for people who cannot afford it, called the study a “wake-up call for elected officials” of the public health risks caused by policing and incarnation and said it showed the need to keep the jail’s population reduced into summer.

Reinhart said his findings were “especially relevant” given recent mass arrests across the country. In Chicago and cities across the U.S., thousands of people went to jail over the past week related to protests.

Sheriff’s office records show bookings at the jail jumped after days of citywide unrest from an average of about 100 per day to 170 on Monday to 215 on Tuesday. Slightly less than half of people brought to the jail were released the same day. If a person is not released the same day they are booked, they are tested for the coronavirus that day and again 14 days later. If a detainee tests positive during that window, they are held in isolation, the sheriff’s office said.

“As of [Wednesday], there were 36 detainees positive for COVID-19 at the jail, and 42 jail staff members currently positive,” Walberg said. “More important, virtually all of the new cases in recent weeks have come from newly arrested individuals who tested positive at intake, not from those who were already in custody.”

Reinhart added that he focused his research on Cook County Jail, the largest in the country, because of its high number of coronavirus cases. He said the Chicago jail could be indicative of a larger trend.

“What’s happening here, I have no doubt is happening across the country,” Reinhart said.



Recent Headlines

Cannabis, gambling taxes to boost county amid long-term budget woes
Thursday, July 02, 2020
The Daily Line

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Thursday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area
Thursday, July 02, 2020
Chicago Tribune

'Going To Do The Best We Can': Cook County Adjusts Outreach Strategy For US Census Due To COVID-19
Thursday, July 02, 2020
WBBM Radio

Why local school districts are lining up against Fritz Kaegi
Thursday, July 02, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

How COVID-19 threatens health care in Cook County
Thursday, July 02, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County’s new website shows nearly half of census funds spent on advertising, marketing
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Forest Preserves of Cook County opens more in Phase 4
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Daily Herald

Dart, other county sheriffs demand state prisons start accepting inmates again
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

A COVID-19 surge in your county? New Illinois website offers ways to check.
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois raise minimum wage Wednesday
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
The Daily Line

Illinois ends June with about half the daily COVID-19 deaths and new cases as in peak month of May
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Kim Foxx confirms office will err on side of dismissing cases related to protests, curfew
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Kim Foxx plans to drop charges against those violating curfew, Fox 32 news reports
Monday, June 29, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois minimum wage increases take effect July 1
Monday, June 29, 2020
ABC 7 Eyewitness News

Home property taxes still rising despite bigger hike on business
Monday, June 29, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Illinois announces 15 additional coronavirus deaths, lowest one-day total since March
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Former county health chief: Racism common factor in deaths in ’95 Chicago heat wave, COVID-19
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

‘And She Could Be Next’ profiles grassroots political heroines of the moment
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Amazon to open two new fulfillment centers in south suburbs
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Chicago Crusader

Cook County courts reopening July 6
Friday, June 26, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP