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JAIL VISITATION RESTRICTED
DUE TO H1N1 CONCERNS

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Friday, December 4, 2009 — For the second time this year, the Cook County Jail is restricting visitation as a precautionary measure against the spread of influenza A, or the H1N1 virus.

Effective today, Dec. 4, the jail is limiting visitation to immediate family members who are over the age of 18, as well as attorneys, clergy or embassies. This restriction will remain in place until further notice.

Before entering the facility, those visitors may be asked if they are experiencing a cough, fever or any other flu-like symptoms. Based on those responses or symptoms, they could be denied entry.

This policy, identical to the Cook County Jail visitation restrictions implemented in May, comes after discussions between Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and medical leaders with the Cook County Bureau of Health Services. It is based on recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Detainees who have been confirmed to have the H1N1 virus are in isolated cells and because of that status, visitation with them will be even more restricted. Attorneys will be provided with secure phones to maintain contact with their clients, while all legal documents will be transferred between the parties by jail staff. There will be no other visitation allowed with those detainees until their status has changed.

The Cook County Jail has approximately 9,200 detainees and has confirmed 26 cases of H1N1 among that population since early November. There are currently 12 detainees who have been isolated from the population and who either have tested positive for H1N1 or who are awaiting test results. Another 5 detainees are being quarantined for four days because they were exposed to these 12 people. The Cook County Bureau of Health Systems reports about 25 to 30 percent of the jail’s detainees are considered “high risk” for the H1N1 virus.

Those recently arrested who come into the jail and show or report flu-like symptoms are being immediately separated from other detainees during processing and they are isolated until their health status can be confirmed.

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