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Quick rise in coronavirus cases continues at high-rise federal jail downtown

In addition to the 74 inmates who have tested positive, the Bureau of Prisons said 20 staff members at the MCC have coronavirus.

A cross can be seen hanging in the window of a cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, 71 W. Van Buren St., in the Loop, Wednesday afternoon, April 15, 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A quick rise in the number of coronavirus cases among inmates held in Chicago’s downtown federal jail continued Friday, with the Bureau of Prisons reporting 74 inmates had tested positive, up from 48 on Thursday.

The sudden rise in numbers reported at the Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center by the Bureau of Prisons follows questions about how the agency has been counting cases there. As recently as Wednesday, the Bureau of Prisons said only seven of the more than 600 people being held at the MCC had tested positive.

Also Friday, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall wrote in an order that seven MCC inmates had been hospitalized over the past two months, and four of them have been released from the hospital.

In addition to the 74 inmates who have tested positive, the BOP said 20 staff members at the MCC had tested positive for coronavirus. Prosecutors have previously said that number had actually risen to 25.