Cook County is bracing for a surge in coronavirus-related deaths.
The opening Thursday of a refrigerated warehouse by the county medical examiner’s office to store dead bodies is a grim reminder that hard times are ahead.
On Wednesday, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced a member of her security team had contracted the virus, prompting Preckwinkle to self-isolate through Friday out of “an abundance caution.”
Speaking to “Chicago Tonight” on Thursday from her Hyde Park home, Preckwinkle said the employee, who she last saw nearly two weeks ago, is doing well.
“I talked to him last night, he’s doing very well and I’m grateful for the fact that he’s recovering,” Preckwinkle said.
Preckwinkle also said she was disappointed in a federal judge’s decision to reject the release of “medically vulnerable” Cook County Jail detainees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve been concerned for a very long time about the jail,” Preckwinkle said. “The jail is our equivalent of a nursing home or cruise ship – it’s a congregate facility and in that circumstance, pandemics can spread quickly.”
More than 400 cases of the coronavirus have so far been reported among the jail’s detainees and staff.
Earlier this week, the emergency room of Provident Hospital, located on Chicago’s South Side, was shut down after a hospital employee contracted the virus. It’s expected to remain closed for about a month.
“It was configured in a way that made impossible, impossible to do social distancing,” Preckwinkle said.