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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Illinois’ nursing homes, veterans homes seeing spikes in COVID cases

(The Center Square) – Illinois’ long-term care facilities are seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases, which means the virus is actively spreading amongst the state’s most vulnerable residents. 

According to Illinois Department of Public Health data, only 20 counties in the state haven’t seen an outbreak of the virus in a long-term care facility over the last 28 days. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that the state is in a better position to test residents and staff of these facilities. 

“We’re doing a lot more testing of everybody but staff, in particular,” he said. “Back in the spring, we only had a limited number of tests and couldn’t test every staff person on a regular basis. Now, we do.”

The Midwest is seeing spikes in facilities at much higher rates than other regions across the country.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living releases a report showing which areas are getting hit the hardest. They include Midwestern states such as Illinois, 

In the first week of November, they found 47% of new COVID cases in nursing homes were from the Midwestern region. That resulted in a 200% increase in weekly COVID cases in nursing homes since mid-September.

“Our worst fears have come true as COVID runs rampant among the general population, and long term care facilities are powerless to fully prevent it from entering due to its asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, said. “Our health care heroes are doing everything they can to prevent it from spreading further, but this level of COVID nationwide puts serious strain on our workforce, supplies, and testing capacity. If everybody would wear a mask and social distance to reduce the level of COVID in the community, we know we would dramatically reduce these rates in long term care facilities.”

An outbreak at a veterans’ home in LaSalle earlier this month has resulted in 75 veterans infected, along with 48 staffers. Local officials are calling for hearings over the outbreak. 

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