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35 inmates test positive for COVID-19 following outbreak at Lake County jail

File Photo (Lake County Jail) | Photo: Google Street View.

35 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 following an outbreak at the Lake County jail in Waukegan, the sheriff’s office announced Sunday.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office announced they are monitoring the outbreak, which began in housing pod 5-North.

The Lake County Health Department has assisted in conducting regular coronavirus testing on inmates, correctional employees and correctional contractors.

The sheriff’s office said they received information on December 14 that four inmates in housing pod 5-North tested positive.

Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said those four inmates had been housed at the jail for several weeks.

“Upon learning of the positive tests, extended proactive mitigation protocols were ordered by Sheriff Idleburg which included the quarantine of pod 5-North,” Covelli said.

“This mitigation includes no internal or external movements of inmates assigned to pod 5-North. Only specific jail employees are allowed to enter pod 5-North all of which are wearing medical-grade PPE,” he added.

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All of the inmates in the pod were tested for the virus and the results came back Sunday showing 31 additional inmates were COVID-19 positive.

There are 53 inmates in pod 5-North, bringing the total number infected to 35. The positive inmates are asymptomatic and in good condition.

All of the inmates in pod 5-North as well as the other inmate pods have increased contact with the jail’s medical provider and are receiving care. Over 1,800 tests have been administered to jail inmates and jail employees to date.

Since February, over a dozen protocols and enhanced mitigation procedures have been implemented at the jail in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus.

Those include the following:

  • Enhanced medical screening for inmates and employees entering the jail
  • Increased cleanings of jail pods
  • Minimization of inmates moving from pod to pod
  • Establishing a medical segregation area for inmates with mild illness symptoms
  • Any inmate experiencing illness wears a mask while quarantined
  • Worked with Courts & criminal justice partners to establish electronic bond hearings, versus in-person hearings
  • Inmates who receive a recognizance bond at their initial hearing never enter the jail’s general population area
  • Utilizing PPEs for all jail staff
  • All inmates wear facemasks when outside of their cell for any reason
  • Utilized vacant housing pods to spread the distance between inmates
  • All newly remanded inmates are housed out of general population for 14 days for medical evaluation before being moved to general population
  • Inmates are required to eat in their cell, rather than in a group setting
  • Inmates are allowed to have their cell doors open during socialization times, but congregated together in common areas are not allowed
  • Regular COVID-19 testing of jail inmates and jail employees