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20 McHenry County Jail detainees currently testing positive for COVID-19

Another COVID-19 outbreak at the McHenry County Jail has resulted in 20 detainees testing positive for the virus, a McHenry County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said Friday.

As a result, all detainees across all of its blocks – not just the two affected – are in a quarantine and isolation lockdown, Sgt. Aimee Knop said in an email. No one has been taken to the hospital in connection with the infections.

The sheriff’s office on Feb. 5 confirmed that 11 inmates had COVID-19. By Feb. 8, all had been cleared by medical personnel, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Creighton said earlier this month.

The three inmates first identified as COVID-19-positive during that outbreak were part of the jail’s inmate worker program, performing jobs in the kitchen and laundry area, Creighton said.

The McHenry County Department of Health on Friday morning offered to make vaccines available to detainees, which will be given on a voluntary basis beginning next week, Knop said.

Jail employees already had begun receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Creighton said earlier this month.

The jail’s current COVID-19 protocols include rapid testing for all detainees once a week and screening and rapid testing of detainees upon entry, Knop said. All jail employees will be rapid tested once a week during the 28-day outbreak period, and if they test positive, a PCR test will be conducted and the employee will be sent home to quarantine for 10 days.

Other protocols include testing inmates with COVID-19-like symptoms, increased cleaning of jail pods, mandatory quarantine periods for new inmates who enter without a negative COVID-19 test, the elimination of congregate dining and the use of personal protective equipment by staff and inmates, the sheriff’s office has said.

Jail detainees with court dates scheduled for Friday received continuances and were not brought to the courtroom for in-person appearances.

Several attorneys have said they were denied contact visits with their clients who were detained at the jail, although Knop said detainees can have video visits with attorneys on their scheduled hour out.

Rights court – the first time a detainee appears in jail before a judge, which usually is within 24 hours of their arrest – still is functioning normally, Knop said. Special afternoon video appearances will be allowed on a case-by-case basis.

Other attorneys also raised concerns about jury trials resuming as planned Monday. Jury trials at the McHenry County courthouse have been on hold for several months but are expected to start again next week.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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