Shapiro Developmental Center reports 44 residents exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms


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2:38 pm update:  There are now 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Shapiro Developmental Center

Shapiro Developmental Center now has nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 44 residents exhibiting symptoms of the Virus as of Sunday. That was the information sent out union representatives in a letter obtained by Country Herald, allegedly sent by Facility Center Director Lynne Gund via the AFSCME Local 29 Facebook Group.

The outbreak at Shapiro was first reported by a local newspaper. At the time of the original report on Friday, the facility was only reporting only 6 confirmed cases.

“There are 44 residents being supported in isolation from others due to potential COVID-19 symptoms.” The letter reads. According to the statement posted to the Union Facebook Group, the following units are being supported in isolation at the facility: 514B, 201A, 201B, 100B, 318, 415B, 704A, 704B, 805A, and 411.

Gund reminds Union members in the letter, “That they have potential symptoms does not mean that they are COVID-19 positive, but we are keeping them isolated out of an abundance, to protect them, other residents, and our staff.” 

“Little too late,” a Mental Health Technician at the facility told Country Herald Monday morning. “We are just so scared on catching this. We just need something more to be done.” 

According to employee reports, Gund only let employees know of the confirmed cases following the publication of the original report of an outbreak in a local newspaper Friday. Up until that time, Shapiro employees were allegedly told the Facility would ‘write up’ employees for wearing PPE while on duty.

“We knew something was up, but (Shapiro) played it off by saying it was the flu. They are only testing if people are taken out by ambulance. Word got around from employees talking, but nothing came from the Director or Assistant Director. (Shapiro) put a lot of people in harm’s way and could have been avoided. Now it’s uncontrollable.” a second Mental Health Technician from Shapiro said Saturday.

Gund told reporters Friday employees had been informed of the cases earlier that morning. Saturday, Shapiro staff were sent a letter indicating they would be required to wear a surgical mask the entire time while at work for 14 days.  

“First it was a men’s unit, now it’s all over. We’re waiting to see the numbers from the Kankakee Health Department this morning,” a third Mental Health Technician said on Monday. “The main question from what I am hearing is, does the governor even know or when was he notified?”

 “If you have come in direct contact with a resident or staff member with a potential or positive COVID-19 diagnosis, we have already notified you already and shared general protocols,” reads the letter sent to Union members.

The letter goes on the share general hygiene recommendations. Up until Sunday, most Shapiro employees were spooked not knowing where residents who had tested positive were located, as that information was allegedly withheld by Administrative staff.

 “They won’t tell us where they are testing positive and they are letting staff go from unit to unit which is putting everyone at risk,” an employee of Shapiro shared with us Friday. IDHS officials released a set of guidelines on March 20th for all state-run facilities to follow over the past weeks, including restricting visitors, screening staff, and restricting residential activities.

Screening at Shapiro began last week. On Friday, Shapiro began issuing masks to their employees. 

 “Our communicable disease nurses are working tirelessly to follow up with contact investigations and to notify anyone those confirmed cases may have had contact with,” the Kankakee County Health Department assured residents this morning. 

As of 8:30 am Monday, Kankakee County Health Department reports 41 cases total of COVID-19 in the county, nine belonging to Shapiro residents and staff.

Employees wishing to issue complaints can file them with the Illinois Comptroller office here.

*Note: Shapiro Employees have been granted protection by Country Herald from being named in this article. We’ve reached out to Governor Pritzker for comments on these reports. 

Have a story you’d like to let us know about? Email or submit a tip here.

Shane Saathoff
Shane Saathoff
An active writer for two decades, Shane's focuses on local news and events throughout the area, Shane is an active historian, science nerd, and tech geek. Shane is a native of Bourbonnais, IL, and alumni of Olivet Nazarene University.


  1. People leave their loved ones there as patients for years on end, and tax payers foot the bill. As soon as something like this happens, everyone there is bellowing as loud as they can. Seems like the mental health techs, (A job for which apparently even a high school education is sufficient.), don’t complain about the good wages, the sweet pension, good benefits, etc. when things are good. The doctors there are working so hard to take good care of the patients, and they are not bellowing about the risk to them. Yet the lower level workers are up in arms, and it is just a matter of time till a patient dies unavoidably, and the patient’s relatives will file a lawsuit, which again, will cost the tax payers. If you don’t like the care being provided there for your offspring or other relatives, buck up and take on the responsibility of taking care of them yourselves at your own residence!

  2. For 1 the patient’s family’s pay for them to stay there. 2 Residents family’s were not notified right away so they could make other arrangements for their loved ones. If they bring them home now they could spred the virus further. You obviously are a disgruntled employee and need to get a new job in a new field. Some health care workers love there jobs. Take it up with the health department for you working conditions instead of making misleading statements.


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