Home Illinois Audit: Emergency Response No Outbreak in Veterans Home | Illinois News

Audit: Emergency Response No Outbreak in Veterans Home | Illinois News

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John O’Connor is an AP political writer

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (AP) – Sluggishness, poor compliance with existing regulations and little help from government health officials have damaged the reaction of Governor J. B. Pritzker at the COVID-19 outbreak in November 2020 at the Northern Illinois Veterans Home, which claimed 36 lives, according to Fr. The state audit was released on Thursday.

A review by Auditor General Frank Moutin said the Illinois Department of Public Health “did not detect or respond to the severity of the outbreak.” For nearly two weeks after the problem was discovered Nov. 1 at the LaSalle Veterans House, IDPH officials were unable to visit the site and offered no assistance. Testing of LaSalle employees for the virus was slow and poorly coordinated, the review said.

In all, 85% of the 128 residents of the home and 38% of the 231 employees contracted the disease during the outbreak, which, as Mautina noted, occurred when infections across the state were growing rapidly and a prophylactic vaccine was not yet available.

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Pritzker, a Democrat, accused Republicans of opposing tactics to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We worked against elected Republicans who told people to challenge mitigation efforts. We have told people that they must adhere to these concessions, ”Pritzker told reporters at the Capitol. “Republicans have told them they don’t need to wear masks. They told people not to get vaccinated. They told people that COVID was not serious. This lie threatens the lives of people, especially the most vulnerable. “

Pritzker suggested that LaSalle visitors who refused to comply with security measures, such as face-covering and social distancing, unknowingly carry the virus to LaSalle’s nursing home.

Report for April 2021 Inspector General of the Department of Social Services reported that during a visit to the site, which took place only on November 12, officials found an ineffective alcohol-free hand sanitizer that is frequently used and no one is responsible for replacing it. and the use of personal protective equipment such as face coatings.

Pritzker, who later admitted that “some leadership flaws” were to blame and said that as governor “I understand that these institutions are my responsibility”, claimed that he was bringing staff to justice, including fired LaSalle director Angela Melbrech in December 2020.

However, he said that to the extent that IDPH was to blame for not providing additional assistance, the agency monitored the entire state response during the worst pandemic outbreak and dealt with hotspots in all directions. But neither during the fall of 2020 nor at any time during the pandemic did Pritzker or his team believe that IDPH could not keep up.

MP Lance Yet, a Democrat from Ottawa who led the House of Representatives call for an inspection of Mautin, complained of a breach of interdepartmental coordination of rapid response, which “most likely led to more illness and death. It also underscores the appalling rate of infection we saw at the peak of COVID-19, and recognizes that even better training and planning may not have been enough to prevent even more infection. ”

Mautin’s auditors found flaws in last year’s Inspector General’s report, arguing that he was overly dependent on investigative interviews and paid too little attention to the paper trail, the Auditor General’s strength.

This led to a staggering coup in the assessment of the then Chief of Staff for Veterans Affairs Anthony Kolbeck. While the Inspector General’s inspection tainted him for insufficient tracking of the problem, Mautina reviewed numerous letters and determined that Kolbeck was in regular contact with the Department of Health for the first two weeks of November. When IDPH did not act, the audit said Kolbeck asked the agency to visit the site and requested information about rapid tests and antibody treatment.

Kolbeck, however, resigned a few weeks after the outbreak. So did the then Veterans Affairs Directed by Linda Chapa Laviawhom Pritzker replaced in the spring of 2021 with Terry Prince, a 31-year-old Navy veteran and former senior adviser to the U.S. General Surgeon.

The inspector general’s report accused of “lack of standard operating procedures” to combat COVID-19. Conversely, Mautina said that in addition to the general infection control policy in place before the pandemic, his team found hundreds of pages of recommendations on COVID-19 from IDPH and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and specific recommendations for LaSalle developed as yet in March 2020.

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