Protesters call for release of inmates after Cook County detainee dies of COVID- 19

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CHICAGO — The death of a detainee at Cook County Jail prompted nearly a hundred of people to protest the release of all inmates, claiming more will die of COVID-19.

The loud protest action by various activist groups come as virus cases within Cook County Jail continue to rise.

According to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, as of Tuesday, 240 detainees have tested positive along with 107 staffers.

Dart said changes were made according to CDC guidelines long before the first reported death.

Jeffrey Pendleton, 59, died Sunday night of complications due to coronavirus after he was taken to Stroger Hospital a week earlier.

The convicted sex offender spent well over a year in the jail system awaiting trial on new charges. He was among a group considered for early released, but his motion was denied.

Dart is outraged by claims that jail conditions are dangerous, since much has been done to isolate the ill and separate all others.

Dart said the jail is even testing detainees before any release to prevent further spread of the virus.

Activists claim their push for freeing all inmates would not endanger society, given the threat to humanity by a pandemic.

Despite the measures, a class action federal lawsuit is seeking the immediate release or transfer of older detainees, and those with underlying conditions.

Meantime, Roseland Community Hospital is setting up a mobile site so more sheriff’s department employees can also get tested.

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