UPDATED 8:45 p.m. | Two more inmates and two employees have now tested positive for COVID-19 at the McLean County jail, Sheriff Jon Sandage said Monday.
The first positive case (an inmate awaiting transfer to a state prison) was announced last Wednesday. Two additional inmates and the two employees have since tested positive. They've had mild symptoms, Sandage said.
The jail currently has 229 inmates, including 45 who are awaiting transfer to the Illinois Department of Corrections, Sandage said. Gov. JB Pritzker in March suspended all admissions into IDOC from county jails. That move frustrated sheriffs around the state, who in response filed a lawsuit that remains pending. The governor issued a new executive order last week that will allow some transfers to resume.
Jails and prisons around the country have faced outbreaks. Dozens of cases were reported recently at the Peoria County jail.
At the McLean County jail, all employees and inmates have been tested, said Sandage. Those who have received a negative result will be tested every five days until there are no longer any positive cases, he said.
McLean County Board member Carlo Robustelli asked Sandage on Monday at a Health Committee meeting whether all inmates could be tested when they first arrive at the jail. Currently, all inmates are quarantined for 14 days before joining the general population, but they are not tested unless they're symptomatic.
"With the spread of this, in terms of asymptomatic spread, it may be a necessary evil for us," Robustelli said.
Sandage said universal testing could be manpower-intensive, but he was open to it.
"We'll talk about it. I'm not opposed. It's just a logistics thing," Sandage said.
Black Lives Matter BloNo has called for the county justice system to decarcerate the jail to decrease exposure to the virus. The organization held an event Monday night outside the jail.
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