CO at Chicago jail dies from COVID-19; 2nd CO's death under investigation

Sheila Rivera worked at the Residential Treatment Unit; an autopsy will discover if Antoine Stewart died from COVID-19


By Megan Crepeau
Chicago Tribune

COOK COUNTY, Ill. — A correctional officer at the Cook County Jail has died from complications caused by COVID-19, and the sheriff’s office said it is awaiting tests to determine if a second officer has also died from the coronavirus.

The office also announced that two more inmates have died after testing postive for the virus, bringing the total to six.

As of Sunday evening, 191 correctional officers had tested positive for the virus, as had 34 other employees of the sheriff’s office. Additionally, 79 other employees previously tested positive but have since recovered and returned to work.

At least 215 detainees in the jail are currently positive for COVID-19, including 17 being treated at hospitals, according to the office. It said at least 183 detainees are no longer positive and “are being monitored at a recovery facility at the jail.”

The office said Sheila Rivera, a 47-year-old correctional officer, died Sunday after testing positive. She had worked for the sheriff’s office since 2012, and her most recent assignment was with the Residential Treatment Unit, which houses detainees who need medical care or other treatment.

The office considers her death to have been in the line of duty and will be advocating for her family to receive benefits accordingly, according to a statement.

“Correctional staff like Officer Rivera are unsung heroes in the battle against this global pandemic, bravely working to keep their fellow colleagues, detainees, and the public safe from COVID-19,” the statement read.

The office is investigating whether the death of another correctional officer, Antoine Stewart, also died from COVID-19. Stewart was found dead in his home in Crestwood Sunday.

“Crestwood Police are conducting a death investigation, but there were no indications of foul play,” the office said. “We are awaiting the autopsy to determine whether COVID19 played a role in his death.”

The two latest inmates to die after testing positive for the virus were identified Juan Salgado Mendoza, 53, and Rene Olivo, 42. Mendoza was pronounced dead on April 20 at Stroger Hospital, and Olivo was pronounced dead on the night of April 19 at Stroger.

Click here for a GoFundMe fundraiser set up for Officer Rivera. 

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©2020 the Chicago Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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