CREST HILL, Ill. — Gov. JB Pritzker has activated additional national guardsman to help fight COVID-19 at Stateville Correctional Center.
Following the death of an inmate at the prison, the governor is sending in the National Guard.
Thirty medical specialists will assist the health department in screening inmates for coronavirus.
The virus has been spreading within Stateville. So far, 48 inmates have tested positive, as well as 16 staff members.
The first prisoner to die of COVID-19 has been identified as 59-year-old Russell Sedelmaier, who was serving a life sentence for the 2005 murders of a pastor and his daughter in Buffalo Grove.
Sedelmaier had underlying medical issues, but the death has other inmates fearing for their lives since the virus is highly contagious and social distancing is impossible behind bars.
One inmate tells WGN he and many other should be tested.
The Illinois National Guard says 30 members will be assigned to health screenings at Stateville, and will be there around the clock.
The additional specialists brings the total guard response to about 430. Many have been assigned to the state’s drive-thru testing sites, as well as logistics.
The state has already taken precautions with other inmates who are elderly with underlying health conditions.