Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The first blood bank in the world was established at Cook County Hospital by Dr. Bernard Fantus in 1937.
   
     
     
     



Cook County Sheriff Dart blasts letter alleging he failed to provide jail staff protective equipment
Dart fires back at lawyer’s claims that staff in frequent contact with inmates have not been provided with masks or other protective equipment.

Sunday, April 05, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times
by Andy Grimm

In an angrily worded letter, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart this weekend responded to allegations that his office has failed to provide proper training and equipment for officers working at the County Jail amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Dart called “irresponsible” a six-page letter from Marni Willenson, a lawyer who represents female jail guards and other staff in a lawsuit alleging the sheriff’s office has been slow to respond to widespread sexual harassment by inmates.

Willenson’s letter outlines anecdotes from some of her clients that jail staff are not provided with training on basic sanitation and hygiene practices, and that staff in frequent contact with inmates have not been provided with masks or other protective equipment.

Dart’s office responded Saturday to Willenson’s claims with its own letter. “In the middle of this crisis, to presume so much with so little support, is dangerous,” Dart’s letter reads.

He warned that it would undermine the chain of command inside the jail at this time.

“Your letter is irresponsible. You, in admitted ignorance, generate unreasonable fear during a viral pandemic instead of solving that fear through informative and complete decisions,” Dart’s letter reads.

As of Saturday, 220 inmates at the jail and 70 jail staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, up from a total of two positive tests two weeks ago. The jail complex on Friday, the most recent day for which statistics were available, was 4,711.

Willenson, whose sexual harassment lawsuit against Dart’s office still is pending, said she has been contacted by nearly 20 jail staff members working in different areas with complaints she says contradict public statements from Dart.

At a news conference last week alongside Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Dart said jail officials had been taking COVID-19 seriously since January and have been screening inmates and holding incoming inmates in segregation to contain the spread of the virus.

A former bootcamp has been converted into a hospital for sick inmates, and Dart said jail officials will isolate more inmates in single cells.

But Dart acknowledged that guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed several times and that there is no “playbook” for handling the outbreak.

But Willenson said her clients have complained to her that despite Dart’s public statements, supplies of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies for jail staff are limited or absent, and that employees in frequent contact with inmates have not been provided with masks.

Staff in some roles last week were told by supervisors they could not wear masks that they provided themselves because it would “alarm the inmates,” Willenson said.

“There appears to be no rhyme or reason to who is getting access to masks or gowns, and the information that they are getting changes by the day,” Willenson said in an interview. “This is not about a lawsuit. This is about a moral obligation to respond to a public health crisis.”

Jail staff said as of Friday, they were allowed to wear masks, and that surgical masks were provided to an increased number of staff, though some reportedly was defective.

But several correctional officers who spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times on condition of anonymity said that precautions, such as taking staff members’ temperatures at the start of a shift, have been thwarted by defective or inadequate supplies.

On a recent shift, officers were allegedly given disposable “thermometer strips,” but none registered any change in temperature. Similar strips have been used to test incoming detainees’ temperatures, and the results appear to be wildly inaccurate.

Willenson’s letter alleges that officers at roll calls have had their temperatures taken using an infrared thermometer that officers typically use to measure the temperature of rooms inside the jail complex, a piece of hardware that is labeled not for use on humans.

Jail staff are mostly resigned that they will likely contract COVID-19 in the weeks to come, and most are coming for their shifts despite their concerns, said several employees interviewed by the Sun-Times.

“I’m scared to go on the tier, but it’s my job. Of course, I don’t want to take it home to my family, but what choice do I have?” one corrections officer said in a phone interview after a weekend shift. “I have to do my job.”



Recent Headlines

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Officials see signs COVID-19 is contained at Cook County Jail, while experts caution measures need to remain in place
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle vetoes plan to give first responders addresses of COVID-19 positive residents
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Daywatch: Pritzker announces reopening rules for businesses, an exclusive look at Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

4 days in Springfield: What passed, what stalled and next steps
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
The Daily Line

Four South Side hospitals call off $1.1 billion merger plan after state lawmakers fail to allocate funding
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Cook County backs property tax incentives for 3 suburban businesse
Monday, May 25, 2020
Daily Herald

May 25 COVID-19 cases per county; search by ZIP code
Monday, May 25, 2020
Daily Herald

What is Cook County doing to provide property tax relief for homeowners?
Monday, May 25, 2020
WGN Radio

Family distraught after officials say Cook County Jail detainee died by suicide
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Chicago Tribune

75 more Illinois coronavirus deaths; state testing tops 700K
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

See who's hunkering down at home—and who isn't
Friday, May 22, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Jail sees signs of COVID-19 containment
Friday, May 22, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Column: An exclusive look at the reborn Cook County Hospital:
Friday, May 22, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Health projects up to $100 million revenue gap
Friday, May 22, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County juvenile detention center reports first COVID-19 cases in its general population
Friday, May 22, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County passes COVID property-tax relief
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Board passes Sept. 30 disaster proclamation extension, property tax late fee waiver
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Chicago Tribune

COVID crisis makes 28 percent of Cook households vulnerable to housing loss
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Residents say they are being kept in the dark about COVID-19 as nearly 90 deaths are recorded at low-income housing in Chicago. ‘This is dangerous.'
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Chicago Tribune

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP