On October 23rd, 2020, the Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois hit 5,000 deaths in long term care facilities. The Tribune quoted Shaba Andrich, Vice-President of the Nursing Homes Division of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana for their story.
Here is our Union’s full statement, and an excerpt of the Tribune’s report.
Shaba Andrich, Vice-President Nursing Homes Division, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana issued the following statement in response to Illinois reaching 5,000 deaths of long term care residents from COVID-19:
“The grim milestone of 5,000 nursing home residents dying from COVID-19 in Illinois is nothing less than a total systemic failure. This ongoing tragedy must force policymakers from every level of government to rethink how to regulate our long term care system.
“The nursing home industry’s continued pursuit of profits even during the pandemic has directly led to a large number of these deaths. The truth is that the nursing home industry has been failing in their obligation to protect our seniors even before this pandemic started.
“It is time to demand accountability from nursing home owners and their entire for-profit business model that pays caregivers poverty wages, refuses to address chronic short-staffing, and denies workers basic health and safety protections, like PPE and paid-sick leave.”
Illinois long-term care facilities are experiencing their biggest jump in COVID-19 cases in months, as the state passed a tragic milestone: 5,000 deaths among residents.
In the past week, Illinois recorded more than 1,400 new COVID-19 infections among residents in nursing homes, assisted living centers and other large, congregate-care facilities, according to the weekly data released by the state.
That’s the highest one-week tally since early June. The weekly tally was also notably larger than the roughly 1,100 new cases seen the week prior, and the nearly 650 cases in the week before that.
Deaths of residents climbed too: another 131 in the past week. That followed tallies the past two weeks of 96 and 95 deaths, respectively, which already was much higher than the 55 deaths seen three weeks ago.
The latest spike put the death toll in long-term care facilities at 5,019, accounting for more than half of the total statewide toll of 9,418 COVID-19 fatalities, as of Friday.
The trends reflect the pandemic’s movement from major population hubs into more rural areas that’s been documented nationwide this fall.
Illinois is also seeing more long-term care facilities listed as having a current outbreak — defined as a positive test in the past 28 days. In the past week, 571 facilities had current outbreaks, compared with 553 the week prior, and 510 the week before that.
The pandemic has heightened a long-running debate about the mostly for-profit long-term care industry.
Advocates have long complained that low worker pay has contributed to staff shortages and poor care. The industry has defended its level of care while complaining in turn of overregulation and meager government funding.
A prominent workers’ union pointed to the latest surge as further evidence of needed reform.
“The grim milestone of 5,000 nursing home residents dying from COVID-19 in Illinois is nothing less than a total systemic failure. This ongoing tragedy must force policymakers from every level of government to rethink how to regulate our long term care system,” Shaba Andrich of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana said in a statement Friday.