29 Peoria County Jail Detainees Now COVID-19 Positive

Jul 23, 2020

Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell said an additional eight detainees at the county jail tested positive for COVID-19 overnight, for a grand total of 29 so far.

Asbell said he thinks all detainee tests will be completed today, leaving the sheriff's office waiting for another 90 results. Asbell said 168 tests already are back.

"We're navigating through this very fluid situation," Asbell said Thursday. "I'm hoping by early next week, we'll have all the test results in so we can kind of truly gauge the scope."

Asbell said the judicial process has slowed down with the courts temporarily suspending in-custody transfers.

With transfers to state prisons also on hold since March, Asbell said the jail population is expanding.

"There's not really truly a release valve right now. And unfortunately, this has been ultra-complicated by the previous budget reductions," he said.

Asbell said the entire facility is basically under quarantine.

Asbell confirmed the initial COVID-19 outbreak on Saturday. On Wednesday, an additional 14 detainees tested positive.

Asbell said he's working with the Peoria City/County Health Department and the jail's detainee health care provider.

Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson said county jail administration is taking the right steps to get its COVID-19 outbreak under control.

She said the jail quickly went into quarantine, minimized exposure among detainees, and worked quickly to get everyone tested. Hendrickson says her department then worked to trace contacts.

"There are specific areas that are 'hot zones' in the jail, in regards to different pods, different locations. With that, being proactive last week, they're able hopefully to prevent the further spread of that in the facility," she said.

Thirteen employees also are off work after testing positive for the coronavirus, while they await results, or in quarantine due to potential exposure.

Asbell said a lot of staff members also are currently laid off, and the outbreak is affecting morale among workers and detainees.

Editor's note: The article originally said 30 detainees tested positive for COVID-19. Asbell has since clarified the number, revising the total to 29.

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