Pritzker Provides Update on Nursing Homes as State Sets Record for COVID-19 Deaths

New statewide totals: 84,698 cases, 3,792 deaths

Illinois has set a new record for the number of coronavirus-related deaths in a single 24-hour period: 192. 

To date, 3,792 deaths in Illinois are linked to the virus and 84,698 people have tested positive for it, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That includes 1,677 new infections reported by officials Wednesday.

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Those are “not just numbers and statistics,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “These are real people and there are families and loved ones who are suffering with each of them whether in their illness or their unfortunate passing. We together as a state mourn for all of the lives lost and we pray for everyone’s quick recovery.”

According to Ezike, 17,668 COVID-19 tests were completed within the past 24 hours, bringing the statewide total closer to the half-million mark: 489,359.

As part of its efforts to increase testing capacity, the state has prioritized testing at long-term care facilities like nursing homes, where infections could lead to more severe cases, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

IDPH is testing all residents and staff at facilities where there are no known cases to potentially identify the early presence of COVID-19 and prevent outbreaks, Pritzker said Wednesday. Tests are also being conducted at facilities where there are cases to identify people who may be symptomatic, he added.

So far, 30,000 tests have been provided to 129 long-term facilities throughout the state, according to Pritzker. In addition to IDPH-driven efforts, Quest Diagnostics, which has a contract with the state, has been providing testing to these facilities since May 5.

“Quest (Diagnostics) and IDPH are working to scale up those deliveries and maintain a 48-hour turnaround for results as dictated by the agreement,” Pritzker said.

While long-term care facilities are primarily responsible for procuring their own personal protective equipment, the state provides a back-up for them. “Having state government fulfill each individual request would not be efficient or in any way manageable,” Pritzker said.

“That said, these are some of our most vulnerable Illinoisans, and in this crisis the state is doing everything in its power to protect them,” he added. “To ensure all facilities have their own stockpile, IEMA (the Illinois Emergency Management Agency) and IDPH have coordinated a somewhat unprecedented effort to directly deliver to more than 1,200 nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across the state.”

Direct shipments of personal protective equipment began April 30 and have reached 85% of those 1,200 facilities, according to Pritzker, who said the final deliveries are expected in the coming days. Each shipment contains N95 and KN95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, face shields and shoe covers for up to 200 residents, according to the governor. Facilities that have more than 200 residents will get two shipments.

During his briefing Wednesday, Pritzker also provided an update on the four state-run veterans homes located in Quincy, LaSalle, Manteno and Anna. Since March 5, every employee and visitor has been screened before entering any of the facilities.

Additional measures implemented March 10 include prohibiting all vendors from the facilities or their grounds, halting construction projects, restricting family visits to end-of-life situations, and suspending off-campus resident activities except for critical medical appointments.

These restrictions evolved alongside guidelines from the IDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including requiring staff members to wear masks and screening employees three times per shift — including temperature checks at the beginning, middle and end of their shifts, according to Pritzker.

As of Tuesday, all residents and staff of the state’s four veterans homes have been tested for COVID-19, the governor said. There are no COVID-19 cases at the Quincy veterans home, and only one resident tested positive for COVID-19 at the LaSalle veterans home, according to Pritzker. At the Anna veterans home, five residents tested positive and no staff members tested positive.

Between April and May, 30 residents and 19 staff members tested positive at the Manteno veterans home, Pritzker said. Those with confirmed cases and their close contacts have been isolated.

“I’m also saddened to share a Manteno veterans home resident who had been in hospice care for several months for other conditions recently tested positive and has passed away,” Pritzker said. “To the family members and loved ones of this hero, a person who served and sacrificed for the America we all cherish, God bless you. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

“In this global battle for public health, the heroism of our veterans is more salient than ever. May we forever share their faith that the people, places and values here at home are worth fighting for.”

Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz (773) 509-5452  [email protected]


Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources

Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including: 

—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick

Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:

—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue

If you think you have COVID-19:

Call your doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.

Additional resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Illinois’ COVID-19 website
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IDPH COVID-19 email link
City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link


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