27 COVID deaths at Illinois vets nursing home prompts probe

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Two-thirds of residents and employees tested positive since the beginning of this month

Elderly, Nursing Home

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LASALLE, Ill. (AP) — State officials have launched investigations into a coronavirus outbreak at a veterans nursing home in Illinois that has infected nearly 200 residents and staff members, and killed 27 veterans.

News outlets reported Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the state’s Department of Veteran’s Affairs are attempting to determine what caused the outbreak at the state-run LaSalle Veterans’ Home. The department on Tuesday requested an independent probe into the facility, which was the focus of a state Senate committee virtual hearing on the outbreak.

“The tragedy of what has unfolded at the veterans’ home cannot be understated,” said State Senator Sue Rezin, who represents the district where the home is located. “I’m glad that the director has called for an independent investigation and agree that there are lesson to be learned from this terrible outbreak that has claimed the lives of 27 of our nation’s heroes.”

The current outbreak was identified in late October when a staff member and a resident tested positive for the virus, the Chicago Tribune reported. The home was not largely impacted by the pandemic until then. In fact, two-thirds of residents and employees tested positive since the beginning of this month, according to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

“It is no coincidence that cases within the home began to rise just as cases rose dramatically within the surrounding community,” Veterans Affairs Director Linda Chapa LaVia testified Tuesday at the hearing.

Dr. Avery Hart, a consultant for the state’s Public Health department, said at the hearing that all 16 long-term care facilities in LaSalle County have had outbreaks.

State officials have increased staff testing at the facility, and the governor said an infection control team was sent to the home. As of Tuesday morning, 40 residents and 24 staff members were positive for the virus. There are currently 101 residents at the home.

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