The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Cook County Jail Spread COVID

May 24, 2021

A recent National Academy of Sciences study confirms what many people already suspected: Cook County Jail was a primary incubator of COVID-19 in Chicago’s black and Latino neighborhoods.

More than 100,000 residents cycle through Cook County Jail each month, and 89% are black and Latino in a county that is 56% white. In the one month of 2020 studied, a staggering 86% of new COVID cases were in ZIP codes of predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods. A primary cause of this increase was inmate release from Cook County Jail. Each inmate released during that month infected an average of five people in their neighborhoods.

Cook County Jail is just a piece of the barbaric system of mass incarceration that falls most heavily on the black population and magnifies all the other inequalities of society including health. Prisons and jails incubate and distribute diseases of all kinds. Humans are herded like cattle in overcrowded conditions. Every day they suffer the humiliation and indignities of cramped quarters, deplorable sanitary conditions, and unhealthy food.

Prison health facilities are far short of adequate because they are severely underfunded and poorly maintained. U.S. prisons have always been a breeding ground for disease. HIV and tuberculosis spread massively there over the years.

This is just one more reason COVID—like every other problem—has fallen most heavily on black people and Latinos in Chicago, and around the country.