MOLINE – U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17) and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today released the following statement in response to reports that two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at United States Penitentiary (USP) Thomson. BOP reportedly tested the inmates in preparation for transferring them to another BOP facility.

“We are deeply disturbed to learn that two of the 19 inmates transferred from Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC) Chicago to United States Penitentiary (USP) Thomson in late April have now tested positive for COVID-19. While we are glad that our calls for testing all inmate transfers within BOP ultimately led to the discovery of these cases, BOP failed to take adequate measures to implement sufficient testing for weeks, losing crucial time to slow the spread of the pandemic within its facilities. As a result, BOP failed to protect inmates, correctional staff, and the greater communities at large where facilities like USP Thomson are located.

“It remains uncertain how many people have now been exposed due to BOP’s irresponsible actions, as well as what next steps the agency plans to take in response. We urge the Department of Justice and the Bureau to immediately and transparently initiate thorough contact tracing, test all staff as well as inmates at Thomson, and take any additional steps necessary to protect the staff and inmates at USP Thomson and the surrounding community. This includes addressing the serious understaffing issues that persist at USP Thomson.

“We have seen what happens when BOP ignores calls for action – the agency must take steps to address this immediately.”

This statement follows previous calls for BOP to test all inmates prior to transfer and remove Thomson as a designated quarantine site. In April, Rep. Bustos and Senators Durbin and Duckworth expressed concern over BOP’s decision to transfer 19 inmates to USP Thomson from MCC Chicago, where there was a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak.