Coronavirus spread in Illinois

The rate of community COVID-19 spread throughout Illinois is shown Wednesday. Green means low, yellow is medium and orange is high. Kankakee County, where the Manteno Veterans’ Home is located, is at a medium level.

SPRINGFIELD — At least 16 residents and six staff members at the state-run veterans home in Manteno have tested positive for COVID-19, and one positive resident who was in hospice died Wednesday morning, according to the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

All of the positive residents had received at least two doses of a vaccine and all but one were up to date on boosters, according to a release from the department. Some of the residents are showing mild symptoms, with most experiencing no symptoms, it said. The agency did not share the vaccination or condition status of the affected staff.

A staff physician was assessing the need for anti-viral post-exposure medicine Wednesday, according to the news release.

The resident who died was in hospice care and “completely asymptomatic,” according to the news release, which noted he died “only hours after his booster shot and ... a COVID positive result.”

The positive residents have been moved to a negative-pressure isolation unit, and the Illinois Department of Public Health took action “only hours after the tests came back positive” to help mitigate spread.

A report last month from the state’s auditor general faulted the health agency for failing to respond swiftly to a November 2020 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home that claimed the lives of 36 residents. The auditor found the agency didn’t visit for 11 days after the first reported cases. Gov. J.B. Pritzker and agency officials noted that at the time, guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discouraged on-site visits due to the virus’s rapid spread.

Current CDC guidelines allow visitors at the Manteno home amid the outbreak, according to the veterans agency, which noted that “families have been notified that we are in outbreak status and that rescheduling visitation should be considered.”

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our military veterans and the heroic staff who care for them. We take this very seriously,” the agency said in the release. “We are following recommendations from local health officials, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the IDPH to safeguard everyone.”

Precautions include daily health screenings; routine testing of residents and staff; use of N-95 respirators, face shields and other personal protective equipment; cleaning protocols; and social distancing.

Residents are being encouraged to stay in their rooms and communal activities have been “curtailed,” with staff developing leisure activities in accordance with social-distancing guidelines.

The Manteno home, one of five state-run veterans homes in the state, is located in Kankakee County, which had a medium level of COVID-19 community spread as of Wednesday.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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