The Coronavirus, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and You
As officials and healthcare professionals at the national level, in the State of Illinois and Cook County continue to address the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and issue daily updates, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office continues to work with those stakeholders. We also remain committed to regularly updating you with key information.
We are taking the best approach to the safety and security of Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) staff and everyone with whom we interact in the Cook County Department of Corrections (CCDOC), at Cook County Courthouses and other public facilities and in our communities.
Health concerns such as those we all face with COVID-19 present an ever-changing picture. CCSO personnel throughout the County embrace our responsibility with the utmost dedication to public safety. Each day, we review procedures and make any changes necessary. For example, please see our new precautionary measures for visitors to CCDOC; you can find them at https://www.cookcountysheriff.org/ccdoc-visitors/ .
The numbers clearly show that face masks, social distancing, hygienic care and other measures listed below are helping in the battle against COVID-19. That’s why such careful behavior remains critical in effectively fighting the coronavirus. Meanwhile, as dramatically increased testing continues, the number of those diagnosed with this virus grows – as was expected to happen with a more open society and so much more testing (now well over 5.4 million tests in Illinois). If citizens fail to follow basic precautions everyone knows about such as wearing face masks and social distancing, that plays a major role in increases.
Illinois, with a population of nearly 13 million, has 286,326 people who now have or previously had the virus which, sadly, has taken 8,588 lives in our state. The daily totals of new cases announced on 16 recent days were the highest in nearly three months, including 2,257 on September 24th, 2,514 on September 25th and 2,441 on September 26th.
Totals of new Illinois cases had dropped for six straight weeks in May and June, a record better than any other highly-populated state. However, amid record testing and a somewhat more open society, weekly new case totals exceeded the previous total in 10 of the past 13 weeks. Importantly, Illinois’ rate of positive test results [measured in seven-day periods] steadily dropped in May, June and into July but it has gone UP very substantially in the past two months.
After being under 3% for weeks, the positivity rates continually increased in late July through August. In August, rates increased the most: for every measurement period in the month, they averaged higher than 4.1%. At one point, they were at 4.3 and 4.4% for five straight days, and through September 8th, the average rate was over 4.2%, including one period that was all the way up to 4.5%. There has been some moderation now with rates between 3.5% and 3.9% for each period since September 9th – but in contrast, the state rate in New York, once a hot spot, has been under 1% for well over a month. Meanwhile, the Chicago-only rate recently rose to 5.4% while Cook County, overall, went up further to 6.8%.
The decline in the positivity rate is good to see, but we are still nowhere near the well-below-3% rates of June. Significant increases have shown, as public officials continue to point out, that Chicago, Cook County and the state remain at a crossroads. The increases must be beaten back further; the public has to make every effort to better slow the spread of the coronavirus. Three of the past four weekly totals of 14,097…13,177…16,225 new cases were the biggest weekly increases since late May – and the state has had 1,000-plus new cases every day for nine consecutive weeks, which hadn’t happened since May.
The number of COVID-19 hospital patients has gone down by more than two-thirds since May 1st and total ICU patients and those on ventilators have dropped by even greater percentages. To reverse recent trends of increased new cases and positivity rates and return to solid overall progress, we must remain vigilant and follow the simple steps outlined below to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The “opening” of various aspects of society does NOT mean people are less capable of spreading COVID-19.
It is imperative that all citizens follow current policies and recommendations of the State of Illinois and all local requirements to help citizens stay safe. Summer has brought many changes announced by Governor Pritzker and officials of Chicago and other municipalities in Cook County. Please be sure you know what is still covered and, specifically, how. It is also key to be aware of recommendations of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With no vaccine yet developed to prevent COVID-19, the best approach is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a common-sense reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Wear a face mask (more on face masks below in this list)
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
- Face masks should be worn by everyone indoors at all times when others are present and by everyone outside at all times when social distancing is not possible. Simply put, this helps prevent the spread of COVID-19; masks protect yourself and others from this virus. The use of face masks has long been crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility). Masks are now crucial for everyone.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially after using a bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty
For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website. If you have questions or concerns, as always, ask a doctor or health professional.
We also want to provide guidance to volunteers, vendors, visitors, and people who frequent the Sheriff’s Office. Our goal is to ensure the safety of our employees, the public, and detainees. Please read the following very carefully and follow the directions below as indicated.
Volunteers, vendors, visitors, and the public should contact their healthcare provider if they have:
- Returned from China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, or any country with a CDC Travel Alert Level 3 in the last 14 days or
- Live with someone or have had close contact with a person under investigation (PUI) or
- Had close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 illness and
- Refrain from visiting the Sheriff’s Office if they are determined to be at risk of exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
As more information has become available about COVID-19, the CDC has updated guidance for all travelers to self-isolate and limit activities for 14 days after travel from China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, or any country with a CDC Travel Alert Level 3 in the last 14 days. This includes people who do not have symptoms of illness.
For additional up-to-date information, please visit:
CDC Novel Coronavirus: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html
CDC Travel Guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
Illinois Department of Public Health: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus
Cook County Department of Public Health: https://www.cookcountypublichealth.org/communicable-diseases/novel-coronavirus/
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