Governor Bruce Rauner is under fire Wednesday as a new investigation reveals the details of the deaths of 13 people at a veteran’s home in downstate Quincy.
Since 2015, 13 people have died from Legionnaires’ disease, according to a report published by WBEZ this week. According to the report, the outbreaks were caused by deteriorating conditions at the home, and 11 families are suing the state of Illinois for negligence in connection with the outbreaks.
Illinois State Senator Tom Cullerton is filing legislation requesting an immediate audit of the home, and will be calling for a hearing to examine care practices at the facility.
"I'm outraged veterans have died on the governor's watch," Cullerton said.
Now, with Rauner’s administration under fire for his handling of the situation, several Illinois gubernatorial candidates, including Democratic frontrunner J.B. Pritzker, are calling for an investigation.
“The obligation we have to these heroes and their families is sacred, and to have that obligation so thoroughly neglected is an unconscionable moral failing,” he said. “When a governor does not take charge, people die.”
Candidate Daniel Biss also criticized the governor, saying that Rauner “failed (veterans) by neglecting to address the outbreak of a wholly preventable disease.”
The Rauner administration defended itself Wednesday, saying that they “quickly brought in the Centers for Disease Control and followed their recommendations.”
According to the WBEZ report, in the summer of 2015 53 residents and staff members at the facility contracted the disease, and ultimately 12 people died. In the summer of 2016, five more people tested positive from the disease, and earlier this year, three more tested positive, with one veteran succumbing to the disease.
After the series of outbreaks, many, including Senator Dick Durbin, are calling for the facility to be shut down until the water system is fully safe. That process could cost up to $500 million.
“Legionnaires’ disease is totally and completely treatable, and it’s found in places like prisons and third world countries, but here we are talking about a Veteran’s Home in Illinois,” Alderman Gilbert Villegas said.
There are nearly 400 veterans and family members that live in the Quincy home. The state is accepting no legal responsibility, according to court claims in the lawsuit.