COVID-19 outbreak at Lake County jail subsiding

  • A COVID-19 outbreak that involved more than 100 cases among inmates and staff at the Lake County jail in Waukegan appears to be subsiding, officials say.

      A COVID-19 outbreak that involved more than 100 cases among inmates and staff at the Lake County jail in Waukegan appears to be subsiding, officials say. Doug T. Graham | Staff Photographer, 2020

 
 
Updated 12/21/2021 4:59 PM

The COVID-19 outbreak at the Lake County jail in late November -- which led to more than 100 cases among inmates and staff -- appears to be subsiding, officials say.

Just two jail employees and three inmates remain in coronavirus-related quarantine, Lake County Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said Tuesday.

 

The outbreak first was reported by jail officials on Nov. 29, after 14 inmates and seven correctional officers tested positive for the virus. The number of infected at the Waukegan facility eventually swelled to 81 inmates and 20 staff members, Covelli said.

Three of the 81 infected inmates were hospitalized, Covelli said. Two have returned, but one remains hospitalized in stable condition because he has a number of underlying conditions, he added.

The majority of those who tested positive had limited symptoms, if any, Covelli said.

During the outbreak, jail officials implemented several new mitigation protocols, including cancellation of all inmate programming, keeping inmates within their assigned units except when approved by command staff, and limiting professional visits to unit visiting booths, rather than face to face.

In early December, officials suspended the jail's work-release program. Despite the improving situation, the work-release program remains suspended.

For the first time during the pandemic, the jail offered those who were COVID-19 positive a monoclonal antibody treatment, which has been shown to help people recover faster. Covelli said 12 inmates and three staff members took advantage of the treatment, which was offered in collaboration with the Lake County Health Department.

The new safety protocols were in addition to long-standing measures at the jail, such as rapid testing for all new inmates, who are then placed on a 10-day hold before moving to the general population; a medical segregation area for inmates with mild symptoms; requiring inmates to eat in their cells and wear a mask when outside their cells; and regular testing of inmates and jail staff.

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