The Illinois Department of Corrections said it began distributing hygiene supplies to its prison facilities on Friday. For the last week, staff and prisoners have told WBEZ that they did not have enough soap or cleaning supplies to protect against COVID-19.
One officer, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak, told WBEZ that prisoners were given cleaning solution to sanitize their cells, but no rags or paper towels, forcing prisoners to use their shirts, sheets, or bath towels. Multiple prisoners, as well as family members of prisoners, have reported that prisoners were not getting hand soap or sanitizer.
In a social media post, the Illinois Department of Corrections said that it distributed a total of 513 cases of hand soap, 371 cases of antibacterial foam wash, and 340 cases of bar soap to facilities.
“We are closely monitoring our supply levels and are in close communication with our vendors to maintain adequate inventory,” the post read.
Health experts say the Illinois prisons are at risk of a coronavirus outbreak because of the crowded and unsanitary conditions, and because of an aging population. Nineteen percent of the IDOC population is 50 years of age or older.