Illinois inmate dies from COVID-19; Winnebago Co. limiting number of inmates

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP/WTVO) – Illinois officials have reported the death of a state prison inmate from COVID-19 and acknowledged the difficulty they face in stopping the spread of the virus in a crowded correctional system.

Dr. Ngoze Ezike, the state’s public health director, said a man at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet had died from the respiratory illness.

Twelve more inmates with COVID-19 have been hospitalized, several requiring ventilators, and 77 others showing symptoms have been isolated, as have 11 staff members.

The virus outbreak is also changing the way Winnebago County Jail is going about business.

Frank Haney, the Winnebago County Board Chairman explained that over the last two weeks, the county jail population dropped from 740 inmates to 605 after letting a number of prisoners go. This was done by a case by case basis, only releasing those who are not a threat to the community.

“Those that do not need to be in jail, that could have a notice in the future to appear when the courts open back up, who are not a threat to the community. The Sheriff and his team and other public safety partners have done a good job of keeping those in our jail safe with proactive mitigation measures,” said Haney.

In total, health officials have administered 616 tests in Winnebago County, 14 of which have come back positive while 331 are still awaiting results.

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