Nursing Home Coronavirus Deaths Increase in Illinois; State Reaches One-Day Peak Wednesday

WILLOWBROOK, ILLINOIS - MARCH 17: An ambulance arrives at the Chateau Nursing and Rehab Center on March 17, 2020 in Willowbrook, Illinois. Earlier today Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that 18 patients and 4 staff members at an Illinois nursing home reported to be the Chateau facility have tested positive …
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The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported a COVID-19 death toll of 192 on Wednesday, a peak for any 24-hour period in the state since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, the number of reported COVID-19 deaths in the state declined to 138, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state to 3,928.

The spike in COVID-19 deaths this week came as the state of Illinois has seen a significant increase in just two weeks in the number of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents as a percentage of total COVID-19 deaths in the state. That percentage jumped from 35 percent on April 24 to 48 percent on May 8.

The IDPH reports nursing home deaths once a week on Fridays, so it is not currently known what percentage of the 192 COVID-19 deaths reported on Wednesday were from nursing home residents. Neither is it known whether the spike has been caused by a continuation in the increase of nursing home deaths or some other factor.

On April 24, the IDPH reported 1,795 COVID-19 deaths in the state, 625 of which (35 percent) were nursing home residents. By last Friday, May 8, the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state had jumped to 3,241, of which 1,553 (48 percent) were nursing home residents. More than half of the nursing home deaths in the state, 865, were reported in Cook County, population five million. Chicago, population 2.7 million, is the Cook County seat.

The Chicago Tribune reported on the details of last week’s spike in nursing home cases and deaths in the state:

More than 50 Illinois nursing homes have eclipsed double-digit coronavirus deaths as several facilities reported spikes in their number of cases and deaths in the past week, according to data released Friday by state health officials. . .

This week, 18 more homes reached double-digit deaths, bringing that total to 51 facilities across the state. Twenty-two have reported more than 100 total cases, with two homes over 200.

The largest increase in deaths this week came at Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook, where 16 people died, bringing that home’s total deaths to 26 — the most in the state. ManorCare Hinsdale reported 13 new deaths this week and is up to 19 since the start of the pandemic.

On Thursday, ProPublica Illinois reported on a cluster of coronavirus cases in a nursing home in a suburb of Chicago that arose before state officials were prepared to respond proactively:

Since mid-April, 75 of the nursing home’s 91 residents and 37 of its 120 workers have tested positive for the virus. Twenty-four residents have died from COVID-19, the most recent on Monday, according to Bria of Geneva and the coroner’s office in Kane County, where the facility is located.

While other Illinois nursing homes may have seen larger overall numbers of cases and deaths, almost none have experienced an outbreak on the scale of the one here, with more than two-thirds of the residents infected with the virus and one-fourth killed by it. The situation at Bria of Geneva illustrates the price of insufficient and delayed testing and how a lag in public reporting of cases and deaths in nursing homes obscured the breadth of a crisis that has disproportionately hit the state’s vulnerable elderly population.

The first resident at Bria of Geneva tested positive April 17. At the time, Illinois public health officials had instructed nursing homes that they did not need to test everyone when there were positive cases. That guidance changed soon after, when state officials acknowledged that more testing was needed in nursing homes to identify asymptomatic residents and staff members and prevent large outbreaks. Still, it took another week for Bria to obtain enough supplies to do widespread testing.

Breitbart News conducted an analysis of the data reported by the Illinois Department of Health on Wednesday on the 192 deaths and calculated that, among the 174 deaths that day for whom the Illinois Department of Health provided age and gender data, the average age of death was 76.1 years, slightly higher than the national average of 75 years.

Notably, as Table 1 below indicates, 67 percent of those who died of COVID-19 in Illinois on May 13 were over the age of 70.

Table 1

COVID-19 Deaths in Illinois
May 13, 2020
By Age Group
Age Group Deaths % of Deaths Ave Age Total Years
13-19 1 0.6% 16 16
20-29 1 0.6% 24.5 25
30-39 1 0.6% 34.5 35
40-49 4 2.3% 44.5 178
50-59 14 8.0% 54.5 763
60-69 35 20.1% 64.5 2,258
70-79 38 21.8% 74.5 2,831
80-89 45 25.9% 84.5 3,803
90-99 32 18.4% 94.5 3,024
100 plus 3 1.7% 102 306
Subtotal 174 13,237
Age Not Reported 18
Total 192
Average Age (Total Years/Deaths) 76.1
Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

As Breitbart News reported this week, the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania — all Democrats — have come under fire for adopting policies early on in the pandemic that required nursing homes to admit patients who tested positive for COVID-19.

Some governors in other states specifically prohibited patients that tested positive for COVID-19 from being admitted to nursing homes.

Early in the pandemic, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, did not adopt a policy specifically prohibiting nursing homes from admitting patients who tested positive for COVID-19. That failure to establish a policy left the decision of admitting or turning away a COVID-19 patient up to the management of the local nursing home facility.

The website of the law firm Levine and Perconti reports the details:

CMS is deferring to states’ decisions on admission of patients with COVID-19. Some states have mandated that facilities accept these patients. Other states have barred facilities from admitting them. Many states, like Illinois, have issued no guidance at all; that coupled with the absence of federal regulation essentially means that decisions about admission of COVID-19-positive patients are being made at the facility level.

The current Long Term Care Facilities Guidance published by the IDPH provides these guidelines to operators of nursing homes for dealing with their residents who have tested positive for COVID-19:

  • If patients have been screened and their testing is POSITIVE for COVID-19 OR if patients have signs/symptoms of a respiratory viral infection:

    1. Obtain Vitals (temperature, heart rate, respirations) AND pulse oximetry every 4 hours (Q4hours) {twice a shift}. Blood pressure can be taken every 8 hours.
    2. Private Room or Cohort with another symptomatic/positive patient
    3. Maintain Standard, Contact and Droplet Precautions (including eye protection)
    4. Consider that staff caring for positive or symptomatic patients do NOT care for negative or asymptomatic patients.
    5. Positive or symptomatic patients should be given a surgical mask and encouraged to wear at all times. These patients should be wearing a surgical mask when close contact with others is anticipated.
  • Any resident identified with symptoms of fever and lower respiratory illness (cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) should be immediately placed in both Contact and Droplet transmission-based precautions.

  • The isolation should be implemented by the healthcare member who discovers the symptoms pending a physician order.

  • Residents with confirmed COVID-19 or displaying respiratory symptoms should receive all services in room with door closed (meals, physical and occupational therapy, activities, and personal hygiene, etc.)

  • Symptomatic residents should only leave their room as required for medical procedures not available on site (i.e., dialysis, medical specialist appointment, and critical testing not available at the facility).

    • If the resident is to leave room for these purposes the shortest route should be utilized and the immediate are/route to the exit/treatment areas should be cleared of all residents and unnecessary staff.

Gov. Pritzker came under severe criticism when it was reported that his wife left the state of Illinois to stay at the family’s horse ranch in Florida.

Pritzker has also been criticized for his refusal to reopen the state and relax heavy-handed safer-at-home orders that continue to shut down “nonessential” businesses.

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