Nearly half of state’s COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities

Nearly half of state’s COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities

Nearly 49 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in Illinois are linked to long-term care facilities, according to the latest data released by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

There have been at least 1,975 deaths of residents or workers at such facilities, as of Friday. At that time, there were a total of 4,058 reported deaths in Illinois.

The number is a slight uptick from last week, when 48 percent of all Illinois deaths were at long-term care facilities.

At least 13,218 residents or workers have tested positive for the virus at 460 facilities in 37 counties, including 230 facilities in Cook County.

State officials reported 125 more COVID-related deaths over the weekend, bringing the state’s total death count to 4,177. An additional 3,822 total cases were reported, bringing the state’s total to 94,191.

A total of 43,342 tests were processed over the weekend. There have now been 581,944 completed tests.

Meanwhile, the state is broadening the categories for who can receive a COVID-19 test. Gov. JB Pritzker said workers categorized as essential workers, like healthcare workers, first responders and government employees, as well as nursing home residents and staff, and individuals with compromised immune systems and chronic medical conditions can receive tests at any of the state’s 251 testing sites.

Those with symptoms are encouraged to seek tests.

Officials also announced the state will open four additional drive-thru sites. One site in the southside of Chicago opened over the weekend, while sites in Champaign, Peoria and Rolling Meadows are set to open in the coming days.

“We won’t stop growing our testing until this pandemic is over,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker also addressed growing concerns over the reliability of the rapid testing system provided by North Chicago’s Abbott Laboratories. The Food and Drug Administration has cautioned that early studies have shown the machines used in the system may return false negative results.

Pritzker said roughly 50,000 of the total tests completed by the state have used the machines.

Pritzker said they are tracking the FDA’s guidance and have started to take a closer look at test results from those machines. He suggested that private and public entities using the system for coronavirus testing wait for further advice from the federal government. 

“We’ve all been put on notice by the FDA,” he said.

Abbott said in a statement they have issues with the initial studies showing problems with the machines.

“While we understand no test is perfect, test outcomes depend on a number of factors including patient selection, specimen type, collection, handling, storage, transport and conformity to the way the test was designed to be run,” they said.


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