Nursing Homes in Illinois Continue to See Declines in COVID-19 Outbreaks, Deaths
Across the U.S., states have either reimposed restrictions or delayed reopening amid surges in COVID-19 cases. However, those statistics offer some good news in Illinois, where newly released state data shows that deaths and cases continue to drop among nursing facilities hit the hardest by the pandemic.
As of last Friday, weekly deaths at nursing homes dropped below 100 for the first time since the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) started publishing detailed numbers two months ago. The total confirmed cases in the state exceeded 150,000 on Thursday, with 1,018 new cases and 20 deaths recorded by IDPH. The state’s total now stands at 150,450 cases and 7,119 deaths.
While long-term care facilities remain mostly on lockdown, health officials have confirmed that the virus has been unwittingly spread by staffers who catch it outside of work, then spread it to residents in facilities—sometimes without even showing any symptoms. One of the hardest hit facilities in Joliet attributed its outbreak to a so-called super spreader employee who set up tables in more than 40 rooms before he fell sick and died.
The problem is compounded by shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staffers in an industry that is often criticized for the poor quality of care provided. The COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on long-standing concerns about how little some facilities were doing to ensure the safety of vulnerable residents.
While many of the infected recover, the virus is particularly deadly to the elderly or those with underlying health conditions—the type of people living in nursing homes. It is for this reason that nursing homes and long-term care facilities must have an infection prevention and control plan ready in case of disease outbreaks. Facilities that fail to provide proper care to residents may be held liable for any resulting deterioration in health or death.
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