Seven detainees test positive for COVID-19 at McHenry County Jail

About 1/3 of the detained jail population in Woodstock was considered fully vaccinated as of Wednesday

Seven detainees at the McHenry County Jail had active cases of COVID-19 as of Monday evening, according to the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office.

Two detainees tested positive for the virus on May 28. Another four tested positive on June 1 and one person on June 5, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Creighton said.

As of Wednesday, 105 detainees, or about a third of the current 316-person jail population, were fully vaccinated, Crieghton said.

It’s unclear how many members of jail staff had been vaccinated.

“We are not asking employees because of privacy and HIPAA,” Creighton said in an email.

The Lake and Kane County sheriff’s offices also could not confirm the number of vaccinated employees.

“We highly encourage it but not mandate it nor are we tracking employee vaccinations,” Kane County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Patrick Gengler said.

Tracking the vaccination of detainees has presented its own challenges, Gengler said. Coordinating doses can be particularly challenging within the jail, where people come and go frequently.

“The single shot J&J shot is a lot easier for the detainees, but again it is still up to the individual detainee to want to be vaccinated,” Gengler said. “We do advertise in the pods and try to message to our detainees that the shots are available if they desire.”

As of May 25, 31 inmates at the Lake County jail had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said agency spokesman, Lt. Christopher Covelli said. An additional 145 doses of Moderna also had been provided to inmates, and 67 inmates had received both doses, he said.

An outbreak that began in February at the McHenry County Jail infected more than 35 people with COVID-19.

It was not immediately clear whether the seven most recent cases were a continuation of that outbreak, which lasted at least into April.

The sheriff’s office has previously said that tests are performed in different sections throughout the jail each day. Since results for each block don’t return all at once, there is sometimes a delay in determining the exact number of positive cases on a given day, Creighton has said.

McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim said last week that the health and safety of the jail and its occupants are “top priority.”

Katie Smith

Katie has reported on the crime and courts beat for the Northwest Herald since 2017. She began her career with Shaw Media in 2015 at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, where she reported on the courts, city council, the local school board, and business.