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23 inmates and 4 staff positive for COVID-19 at East Moline Correctional Center
EAST MOLINE CORRECTIONAL CENTER

23 inmates and 4 staff positive for COVID-19 at East Moline Correctional Center

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The East Moline Correctional Center has 23 prisoners and four employees who have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, one of the employees has recovered, but no prisoners have recovered at this time.

It is the second-highest number of coronavirus cases among correctional facilities in the state. Stateville Correctional Center, located near Chicago, has the highest number of COVID-19 cases, showing 175 prisoners and 79 staff with the virus. 

"COVID-19 is in the prison, and several offenders have tested positive," said Cody Dornes, an East Moline correctional officer and president of AFSCME Local 46. 

The East Moline minimum-security facility houses male inmates and has a current population of 1,055 with an operational capacity of 1,383. 

Dornes said the prison was not testing inmates unless they exhibited symptoms of coronavirus, including those sharing a cell with someone who tested positive. In other words, if a man in a four-man room tests positive, the others are not tested. If an inmate tests positive, he is moved into a quarantined unit. Dornes said the three staff members who had not yet recovered were self-isolating at home. 

"Right now we are testing the inmates with symptoms only," he said. "Testing isn't as widespread as people like to think. I wish there was more testing being done. I don't think with Iowa and Illinois opening up it's going to make it any easier on us."

The Rock Island County Health Department on Monday reported three new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 782 cases and 28 deaths in the county. 

Dornes said employees had the choice whether or not to be tested. 

"No one is required to be tested," he said. "We are required to wear PPE, per the assignment that it calls for. I think there is this cloud of haze over everything where everybody thinks things are perfect, but I don't think we're there yet. I don't think we're taking the proper precautions statewide."

All correctional facilities in the state remain under quarantine with no outside visits allowed. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections website, "Facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19 are placed on medical quarantine," and those who tested positive will continue to receive the services of medical care, mental health care, showers, phone access, meals and access to the exercise yard.

"The Department is communicating regularly with people in custody to ensure they feel safe," the website states. 

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