Illinois coronavirus update: 5 deaths now reported at Stateville Prison

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois officials are now reporting five deaths related to COVID-19 at the Stateville prison in Crest Hill, Illinois.

According to a spokesperson with the Illinois Department of Corrections, the most recent death was last Thursday when an inmate in his 70's died outside the prison at a hospital.

There have not been any IDOC staff who have died from COVID-19.

The ABC7 I-Team uncovered the dangerous and deteriorating situation involving COVID-19 infected inmates from Stateville Correctional Center in south suburban Crest Hill.

RELATED: Coronavirus danger escalating behind bars at some Illinois prisons, jails

State prisons and local jails are considered among the worst place to control the viral pandemic.

There are state efforts to deal with the spreading virus behind bars, including releasing additional non-violent prisoners from state facilities.

But family members of loved one still inside Stateville said more needs to be done to provide inmates with COVID-19 testing and cleaning supplies. They also said overcrowding does not allow for social distancing.

In an attempt to stop the spread of the virus the state had released or transferred out of custody hundreds of people from Illinois prisons.

Last Thursday a federal judge denied a bid Cook County Jail detainees for release or transfer amid the coronavirus outbreak but ordered Sheriff Tom Dart to implement new policies to keep inmates safe.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly ordered Dart to begin prompt coronavirus testing of detainees who exhibit symptoms of the virus by Saturday. He said the sheriff must also enforce social distancing when taking in new inmates.

An adequate amount of soap or hand sanitizer must be available for inmates to frequently clean their hands, the judge said, and staff must receive sanitation supplies. Finally, the judge said the sheriff must "provide face masks to all detainees who are quarantined."