Cook County sheriff’s office suspends jail visits, evictions due to COVID-19

Two women walk toward a visitor's entrance of a maximum security detention area of the Cook County jail in Chicago, Illinois. ( Scott Olson/Getty Images )

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced Saturday that all jail visits and court-ordered evictions will be put on hold starting this weekend, after sheriff’s deputies encountered a person showing symptoms of COVID-19 while serving an eviction.

Jail visits to all detainees held at the Cook County Jail “will be suspended until further notice, effective Sunday,” Dart’s office said in a statement, as authorities try to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Evictions will be suspended for the next 30 days in response to an order from the Office of the Chief Judge, which also put most criminal and civil cases on hold.

Earlier this week, sheriff’s deputies came in contact with a man during an eviction who showed symptoms of the virus, Dart said. Emergency services were immediately requested and the man was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

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The sheriff’s office said there are no known cases of COVID-19 in the jail.

Attorneys and clergy members will be able to visit detainees, but must be screened by staff for symptoms of the virus first, Dart said. Staff are working to expand ways for detainees to talk with their loved ones by phone.