Nearly 300 COVID-19 deaths linked to nursing homes
Illinois nursing homes have reported at least 286 deaths linked to COVID-19, almost a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in the state, officials announced Sunday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health published for the first time over the weekend information regarding outbreaks at long-term care facilities.
As of Sunday, at least 1,860 cases have been reported in 189 facilities in 22 counties, including 104 facilities in Cook County.
Department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said officials were initially hesitant to publicly release the information over concerns it would “stigmatize” those who work at the facilities.
“You can stigmatize the families of the people who have relatives in those nursing homes, and we were concerned about that,” she said.
Officials reported 158 new deaths reported over the weekend bringing the total to 1,290. That included 125 on Saturday, matching a single-day high set on Thursday.
An additional 2,782 total new cases were reported on Saturday and Sunday, bringing the state total to 30,357 in 93 counties.
A total of 143,318 tests have been completed.
Meanwhile, Gov. JB Pritzker announced the state will partner with Advocate Aurora Health to expand its telehealth services for COVID-19 patients in the northern part of the state.
The partnership will provide health services to those experiencing mild symptoms of the virus, but do not need hospitalization. Patients will be connected with a healthcare worker to establish “daily virtual visits,” as well as sent a thermometer, blood pressure cuff and alcohol wipes.
The state previously announced it had struck a telehealth partnership with OSF HealthCare and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine for patients in central and southern Illinois.
The program will allow those patients to “recover from the safety of their homes,” said Pritzker during his Saturday press conference.
“That program now extends to the rest of Illinois, rounding out our telehealth coverage around the state,” he said.
The services will be available to anyone, regardless of insurance.
Pritzker also announced Sunday that Illinois is expected to receive its second shipment Monday of “millions of masks and gloves” from China. The personal protective equipment will be sent to the state’s warehouse for inventory and performance quality checks before being distributed to first responders and other healthcare professionals.
He also said he continues to consider issuing an order to require residents to wear masks or other protective equipment when going out in public where social distancing is not an option. A decision will be made as the state looks at making adjustments to the existing stay-at-home order, which expires at the end of the month.
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