A mass case of Father’s Day and Finals flu broke out in Chicago Sunday.
Over 300 Cook County Jail employees called in sick, prompting corrections officials to place the country’s largest single-site county jail complex on lockdown Sunday.
The 318 total call-outs among the 7 a.m.-to-3 p.m. and 3 p.m.-to-11 p.m. shifts reported by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office fell on the same day as Father’s Day and the deciding Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Officials lifted the lockdown Monday morning.
“While I can’t prove that with certainty, it’s my very strong belief that the call-outs were caused by those events and the beautiful summer day,” Cook County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Cara Smith told the Daily News.
Corrections officials expected 1,296 employees between the two shifts and found themselves without 25% of their staff, Smith said. She noted 524 staff members called in sick or asked for the day off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act between Sunday morning and Monday morning.
The Cook County Jail houses roughly 8,500 inmates a day and 100,000 inmates a year.
“The lockdown was ordered to ensure officer safety,” said a statement postedon the sheriff’s office Twitter feed. “Detainee movement is limited to visitation, discharges and medical appointments and emergencies.”
The lockdown prohibits inmate recreation and any other programming requiring staff, Smith said.
“When we have this many staff that call in, we have to make the tough decisions to eliminate where we can,” she said.
Corrections officials also placed the facility on a 24-hour lockdown last month during Mother’s Day, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Over 460 staff members called in sick or took a personal day that day.
Yet the championship thriller between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Caveliers caused some to question whether sports was the true reason for the mass call-out.
An investigation by WMAQ-TV WM revealed in February that seven out of 10 days with the most employees calling in sick over the past four years happened either the day of a major sporting event or the day afterward.
“It’s earned medical time,” Dennis Andrews, business manager for jail workers’ union Teamsters Local 700, told the TV station at the time. “Officers earned that. If they need to use it, who am I — or who is anybody — to question them using their earned time?”
Source: NY Daily News