ER nurse, state representative joins fight against coronavirus at Cook County Jail

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Kyle Mullica came to Chicago to fight COVID-19 on the front lines, picking one of the hottest spots in the city: the Cook County Jail.

"It was intense. It was a lot of hours. It was difficult being away from my family," said Mullica, a registered nurse who works in the emergency room of a Colorado hospital.

He put his skills to use in Division 10, working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, totaling five weeks straight.

"There's this sense of duty, and a sense of calling on things like this. I wanted to use the skill that I had," said Mullica, who also serves as a state representative in Colorado.

So with his wife's support, he left home.

"I have a 6-year-old, 4-year-old and 1-year-old," the father said. "We really talk to them a lot about when you have the opportunity to help somebody you should help them. And I feel like you need to walk that walk."

While he was here, however, there were sacrifices. He missed special moments with this family.

He choked back tears describing that time.

"I'll try not to tear up now. I missed my daughter's first step while I was there. I guess it doesn't hit you until it happened," he said.

But he knew staff and detainees at the Cook County Jail needed help.

"No matter what you're here for, no matter what your story is behind it, our job was to make sure they were safe and protected and we cared for them," he said.

As of Thursday, Cook County Sheriff's Office reports that 94 detainees have COVID-19, as well as 77 officers and employees.

Overall, more than 330 employees previously tested positive and have returned to work.

"The people I did interact with are just some of the most friendly and welcoming people I've been around," Mullica said.

Mullica is a Coloradan at heart, but he also appreciated the city's classic beef sandwiches and Chicago spirit.

"I fell in love with your food," he said. "My wife told me I needed to take it easy because I discovered Portillos and Italian Beef sandwiches."

"The spirit of Chicago is strong," he said. "You sense that, you sense that - that people are in this to make sure everyone gets through this."

Mullica said he's healthy and will remember his time helping others in in the jail for the rest of his life.
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