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Cook County Jail Inmate Who Tested Positive For Coronavirus Dies

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Cook County Jail inmate who contracted coronavirus has died, the Cook County Sheriff's office confirmed.

Jeffrey Pendleton, 59, was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital of Cook County at 9:49 p.m. Sunday.

He had been at Stroger since Monday of last week after testing positive for COVID-19, the Sheriff's office said. The official cause of his death is pending autopsy, but preliminary reports indicate he died as a result of complications from the virus.

In confirmed, Pendleton would be the first person in Cook County Department of Corrections custody to die of the coronavirus, the sheriff's office said.

Pendleton was booked into the jail on July 24, 2018 on charges including being an armed habitual criminal, armed violence, and other drug and weapons offenses, the sheriff's office said.

He received a bond review on March 26, but a motion to reduce his $50,000 bond was denied, the sheriff's office said. He had 15 previous convictions and was a registered sex offender for a 1997 conviction of aggravated criminal sexual assault – for which he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Right now, the Cook County Jail has a total of 4,567 inmates. But as CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported Monday, the COVID-19 infection rate at the jail continues to make national headlines.

And attorney Stephen Weil said the escalating number of positive cases - now 234 - supports claims that social distancing at the jail is not possible.

"The infection rate is very high," said Weil, who filed the federal lawsuit over the issue. "It bespeaks a situation that the infection is being transmitted very rapidly throughout the jail and at a rate that is a multiple of the outside world where actual social distancing is possible."

We looked into it. The current infection rate in the Cook County Jail is one in every 20 detainees has tested positive for COVID-19, or 51 positive cases for every 1,000 inmates.

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