National Guard members help front line workers at state prison

Health

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– 64 workers and inmates were inmates at a prison just north of Joliet contracted the coronavirus. The maximum security facility was placed on lock down to avoid movement around the building. Governor Pritzker activated a company in the National Guard from Springfield assist medical teams in containing the spread.

Guardsmen and women in the capital city say they knew their time for service was coming. Now that their numbers have been called, they are ready to help however they can.

Company C of the 634th Brigade Support Battalion based in Springfield is headed up to Stateville Correctional Center. The group’s commander said they will be a part of several missions at the facility, all designed to support and relieve medical staffers who have been working around the clock there. While the company is used to providing medical services for their brigade, they said this assignment is a unique opportunity to serve the state and they’re up for the task.

“This is what the national guard is designed for,” said company commander Major David Sandford. “When the governor needs you to do this, you do it. And again, it doesn’t necessarily matter what the mission is, we are there to support anybody and everybody. And regardless of what that population looks like, we are there to help not just the employees of the prison itself but also the prisoners too. We’re here to do our part to help this out.”

Sandford said they have several more members in Springfield who are eager to help in the crisis and will be ready when their time comes.

A concern for many people responding to the health crisis has been the amount of personal protective equipment or PPE. The guard said they are confident there will be enough for them when they get up to Stateville.

Public health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said 19 people from the prison were hospitalized Wednesday but three have since been released.

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