Illinois political leaders ask for more COVID-19 testing at Pekin federal prison

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PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois leaders are pushing for more COVID-19 testing for prison staff and inmates following an outbreak at a Pekin federal prison.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) are issuing an urgent second call for testing at The Federal Correctional Institution – Pekin.

The prison reported, Thursday, 319 inmates and 13 were positive for the virus. Durbin said they wrote the prison a letter back in October and are unsatisfied with the prison’s lack of response for handling the spread.

“This is inexcusable. The staff and the people who are incarcerated there have the right to be treated humanely, that involves testing and taking the precautions necessary to keep them safe,” Durbin said. “The bureau’s presidents have got to get moving and we wrote them another letter and we’ll follow through.”

Durbin said in addition to testing, he believes the prison should segregate those who are vulnerable and provide personal protective equipment to help get the COVID-19 numbers down.

“We’ve got to make sure everybody follows the rules,” Durbin said. “Wearing masks and making sure to keep their social distances. It’s a program that’s so obvious it should have been implemented long ago.”

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