1,082 Illinois COVID-deaths connected to long term care facilities. Here are the hotspots

WGN Investigates

 More than 40 percent of coronavirus-related deaths in Illinois are connected to long-term care facilities.

Wednesday politicians and relatives of people receiving care said most places aren’t doing enough to slow the spread.

 73-year-old Leslie Spells lost his life to COVID-19 in April.

Spells lived at Symphony of Joliet, a nursing home that has the dubious distinction of holding two state titles:  The highest number of cases and highest number of deaths.

Symphony of Joliet and Bria Forest Edge  in Chicago have both reported 127 confirmed cases to the state.

Alden Terrace in northwest suburban McHenry had the third highest number of cases with 120.

 “It’s not just this facility. It’s nursing homes across the county and state that have to step up and do a much better job,” Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson said.    

A group calling itself “Save Our Seniors” spoke with reporters outside the Westchester Health and Rehab facility, which has seen 12 COVID-related deaths.

But that’s only half the number of fatalities that some local long-term care facilities have experienced.

Once again, Symphony of Joliet tops the list with 24 deaths, followed by Elevate Care North in Chicago, which had 22 deaths.

And Windsor Park in west suburban Carol Stream had 20 deaths.

Health officials began implementing safety measure like restricting visitors and symptom checks for staff in March. In recent days, state health officials have sent in so-called “strike teams” to help the most compromised facilities with everything from sterilization to staffing.

“We continue to send support teams of staff to assist with infection control guidance,” Illinois Department of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday.  “Sometimes we do go in with teams to facilities and identify that proper techniques with regard to infection control are not being adhered to and we try to correct those.”

1,082 COVID-related deaths in Illinois are connected to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

  A spokesperson for Symphony Care in Joliet insists their high case numbers are more reflective of aggressive testing by the Will County Health Department than a breakdown in infection control. 

A spokesperson for the Health Care Council of Illinois, which represents nursing homes, points out the state’s cumulative infection and death numbers don’t show how many people have recovered or offer a current snapshot of infections.

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