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 total number of citizens diagnosed with this virus grows – as was expected to happen with so much more testing (now more than 2.8 million tests in Illinois).
Illinois, with a population of nearly 13 million, has 183,241 people who now have or previously had the virus which, sadly, has taken 7,526lives in our state. The daily total of new cases announced on Friday (July 31st) was the highest in more than two months: 1,941.
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, new cases have now increased for six straight weeks. Importantly, Illinois’ rate of positive test results [measured in seven-day periods] began steadily dropping in May, and that trend continued even more so through June and into July. The rates were under three per cent for 15 measurement periods, often well under 3%. But the positivity rate has gone UP very substantially since July 9th.
Rates of positive test results reported recently were: 2.9% to 3.1% for periods ending from Saturday, July 11th through Tuesday, July 21st. The rate for the period ended July 21st was 3.2%; July 22-23 were 3.4%; July 24 was 3.6% and July 25 increased to 3.7%. For the periods ended Sunday-Wednesday (July 26-29), the rates were even higher at 3.8%, the periods ended Thursday-Saturday (July 30-August 1st) were each up more – to 3.9%. The latest rate, Sunday (August 2) was all the way up to 4%. Also Sunday, the Chicago-only rate was 4.8% and Suburban Cook County was at 5.8%. These higher numbers are of considerable concern to public health officials.
The much lower earlier rates had included 2% for three consecutives periods and 2.5%-2.6% for 10 periods. That 2% rate was the all-time low in Illinois since major testing began ramping up here. The recent significant increase shows, as public officials have said, that Chicago, Cook County and the state are at a crossroads. The increase has been manageable but cannot continue; the public must make every effort to better slow the spread of the coronavirus. It’s worth repeating: weekly totals of new cases have now grown for six straight five weeks and the daily total announced Friday (July 31st) was the highest in more than two months.
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).
There is currently no vaccine 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/
Recent Press Releases
- CDC Study Finds Aggressive, Timely Interventions Dramatically Reduced COVID-19 Case at Cook County JailAggressive, comprehensive measures implemented at Cook County Jail caused a dramatic decline in the [Read More]
- Sheriff’s Office Opens Testing at The New Roseland Hospital for General PublicThree weeks ago in-person visitation resumed at the Cook County Jail for the first time in nearly [Read More]
- Sheriff’s Office Resumes In-Person Visitation for Detainees at Cook County JailIn-person family visits have resumed at the Cook County Jail for the first time in nearly three [Read More]
- Sheriff Dart, New Roseland Community Hospital Opens COVID-19 Test Site for Sheriff’s Office EmployeesCook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced that a mobile COVID-19 testing site opened today at [Read More]
- Update on COVID-19 Cases at Cook County JailAs part of its ongoing effort to inform the public of the measures being taken to combat the spread [Read More]