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Inmates Likely To Compete For Resources During Spread Of COVID-19

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As has been discussed for weeks, hospitals are expected to reach or exceed capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. And as cases of COVID-19 spread through prisons, medical resources you or a loved one might need at your local hospitals will be up for grabs.

Sources in the medical field say they've treated an increase in inmates from Stateville Correctional Center for COVID-19 coming through hospital doors.

And as hospitals begin to fill up some inmates could be competing against for the same resources as others.

"I was really concerned because I know it can go through there like wildfire," said Cheryl Adamo.

Adamo's son Luigi is serving time at Stateville Correctional in Cresthill along with about 1,200 others.

"My son does have chronic bronchitis, so I am very concerned if he was to catch this," she said.

So far four staff members and five inmates have tested positive at Stateville. An additional three staffers at the adjacent NRC facility also have COVID-19. Eighty-six lab tests are pending.

"At Stateville we are facing a potential crisis there," said Alan Mills, executive director of Uptown People's Law Center.

Mills said Stateville is not prepared to handle an increase of COVID-19 cases.

"Saying it's not equipped is a vast understatement," he said. "It wasn't equipped to handle day-to-day medical problems. It has no way to deal with the kind of outbreak we're seeing in other prisons and jails in the country."

That means if inmates like Luigi were to get sick and need to be hospitalized "people on the outside should be concerned that they're going to be competing with people from prison for scarce hospital resources, same hospital same ventilators we're going to be need to be treated by the same doctors wearing the same masks all of which are in short supply."

The state is looking into the possibility of releasing some inmates to take some of the pressure off the prisons.Those would most likely be elderly snd those those with underlying health issues.

Gov. JB Pritzker has largely stopped accepting detainees into state prisons to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart slammed that decision, calling it an "every man for himself" mentality.

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