(The Center Square) – The Illinois National Guard is on the ground at veterans’ homes to help with testing as the state works to control COVID-19 outbreaks at the facilities.
Guard medical staff are currently in LaSalle, and will go to veterans’ homes in Quincy and Manteno on Monday to help with testing and screening. In a statement, LaSalle County Veterans Assistance Commission Superintendent Steven Kreitzer said the staff are medical units that will be “utilized to maintain records of temperature checks and COVID-19 testing as well as make sure PPE is being worn at all times properly.”
During his daily COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Gov. J.B Pritzker said there is now an outbreak at the Quincy Veterans Home.
“At Quincy, 32 of 293 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, along with 22 staff members testing positive,” Pritzker said.
Another resident at the LaSalle Veterans Home has died, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths to 33, more than a quarter of the residents of the state-run facility. As a result, Administrator Angela Mehlbrech was terminated and Acting Assistant Director for the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Vaughn, is serving as the interim administrator. At least two independent investigations are currently taking place in examining the outbreak.
A reporter asked Pritzker earlier this week about the National Guard helping at the homes, but he dismissed it as a rumor. On Thursday, he said he didn’t know about it at the time the question was asked.
“In retrospect, I had directed every member of my administration to move quickly to respond with every available resource to assist IDVA and National Guard was asked to be of assistance before I was made aware,” Pritzker said. “That’s a good thing. I want my administration to be nimble and responsive, but I want to apologize for being dismissive when I was asked about it.”