A corrections officer at the McHenry County Jail has tested positive for the coronavirus, the McHenry County Sheriff's Office said Friday.
A corrections officer at the McHenry County Jail has tested positive for the coronavirus, the McHenry County Sheriff's Office said Friday.

As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here

A corrections officer at the McHenry County Jail has tested positive for the coronavirus, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.

Sheriff’s Deputy Sandra Rogers said in an email that the sheriff’s office was able to determine the employee was infected from someone unrelated to and outside of the jail.

The corrections officer notified the sheriff’s office of the positive test on July 27, and he or she has not yet returned to work, Rogers said.

“We are utilizing the recommendations provided by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the health department in regard to symptomatic employees,” she said. “If one becomes symptomatic, they are to quarantine at home for 14 days and contact their physician for testing.”

Two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees being housed at the jail also have tested positive for COVID-19 and were under isolation or monitoring as of Thursday, according to the agency’s website. Another detainee also has tested positive, but he or she no longer is under monitoring.

All three ICE detainees who tested positive did so on
July 30, when they were being transferred to the jail, Rogers said.

ICE provided the jail a rapid COVID-19 testing machine and materials on July 24, Rogers said. They are being used by the jail’s medical staff to test all ICE detainees when they are transferred into the facility.

The two detainees still being monitored have been quarantined in accordance with CDC guidelines in the McHenry County Jail’s medical section in a negative airflow room, Rogers said. Both are asymptomatic.

Rogers said the third detainee who tested positive was released by ICE the same day. 

“In addition to our enhanced cleaning and screening, which began in February, we continue to check [the] temperatures of everyone entering our correctional facility and now require masks,” Rogers said in an email. “Protocol requires that if a COVID-19-positive detainee or inmate leaves their quarantine area, for example, to use the phone or take a shower, those areas are to be immediately cleaned after use.”   

No other detainees or inmates have tested positive, Rogers said.

McHenry County earns $95 a day for each federal detainee housed at the jail through an agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service.

Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed a lawsuit on behalf of two men being held in ICE custody at the jail, seeking their immediate but temporary release because of what they said are conditions in the jail promoting the spread of COVID-19.

Both men have since been released.

McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim previously has defended sanitary conditions in the jail. COVID-19 precautions inside the facility include cleaning surfaces more often than normal, providing personal protective equipment to officers working in the jail, and distributing and posting procedures from the CDC and local health departments for how to combat the virus, a sheriff’s office spokesman has said.

About 21,546 people currently are detained by ICE, according to its database. About 21,085 detainees have been tested, and 911 COVID-19 cases are currently in custody.

The Pulaski County Detention Center had the most confirmed COVID-19 cases among detention facilities in the Chicago Field Office region that includes the McHenry County Jail. Pulaski County had 51 confirmed cases, the Chase County Detention Facility had 27, the McHenry County Jail had three and the Lincoln County Detention Center had one as of Thursday, according to ICE’s website.

For more local news, visit Northwest Herald at https://www.nwherald.com.