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COVID-19 case numbers drop at Cook County Jail

The exterior of the Cook County Jail
The exterior of the Cook County Jail pictured on Sept. 12, 2018. Bill Healy / WBEZ

In another sign that Chicago-area infections from the coronavirus’s omicron variant may be ebbing, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is reporting a drop in COVID-19 cases at the massive jail he runs on the city’s Southwest Side.

His office on Wednesday reported that 352 of the jail’s 5,848 detainees were “currently positive” for the virus. Those cases were 81 fewer than the count last Friday, when the jail set a pandemic record with 433 positive detainees.

Dart’s office says sheriff’s personnel and Cermak Health Services, a county unit under County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, have ramped up testing and vaccinations long before omicron’s arrival. The office says it has also been showing educational videos about the benefits of the vaccines on a daily basis throughout the jail.

The sheriff’s office has reported no deaths among detainees due to COVID-19 during the omicron wave. During earlier stages of the pandemic, according to the office, 10 detainees who had tested positive for the virus died at local hospitals.

Read more: After a record high, Cook County Jail’s COVID-19 infections subside