The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released data that shows the extent to which the coronavirus has spread across the state’s more than 1,200 nursing homes. Six percent of the state’s infections and 22 percent of deaths linked to COVID-19 have occurred at long-term care facilities. Officials reported 1,900 cases and at least 286 deaths at assisted living facilities and nursing homes in connection to the virus as of April 19.
The health department gathered data from 21 counties including DuPage, Cook and Will. Cook County was among the most severely affected with more than 804 coronavirus cases and 144 deaths across at least 100 facilities. DuPage County’s total death toll was more than 90, of which 64 fatalities were associated with outbreaks at the county’s 50 long-term care homes.
Several facilities in Illinois have reported large-scale coronavirus outbreaks since the pandemic began. The first cases were identified at the Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook, DuPage County, where both patients and staff fell ill. Symphony of Joliet has the highest number of confirmed cases with 81 infected individuals and 26 COVID-19 deaths.
In an effort to contain the spread of the virus, DuPage County officials have asked nursing homes to enforce strict visitor restrictions and conduct mid-shift staff temperature checks. They have also called for facilities to be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state would dispatch a team of specialists into long-term care facilities with confirmed cases. IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike emphasized the importance of expanded testing for the virus, including the “aggressive testing of staff.” She said more testing supplies will be sent to nursing homes for early detection of COVID-19.