Cook County Jail suspends all visitations due to coronavirus concerns


CHICAGO — Cook County Jail is temporarily halting visitations this week as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Chicago and across the county, officials announced Sunday.

The jail is suspending all in-person visitations starting Monday morning, officials said in a statement, after COVID-19 infection rates in Chicago and Cook County prompted stay-at-home advisories which take effect the same day.

While video visitations will be made available, officials said banning in-person visits “will help protect the health and safety of staff and detainees.”

Early on in the pandemic, Cook County Jail was called one of the worst COVID-19 hotspots in the country as officials reported more than 900 COVID-19 cases among detainees and staff from March 1 to April 30.

As activists sued seeking the release of prisoners, nonviolent offenders were released from the jail early on in the outbreak to reduce its population.

The jail’s response in the months that followed was later praised in a CDC study which said its aggressive intervention strategies and widespread testing caused infection rates to plummet.

Officials halted visitation as part of this strategy as well, in addition to moving inmates to single-person cells, limiting movement and ending other programming.

FILE VIDEO: Cook County Jail’s COVID-19 response was championed as an example to follow by a CDC study


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