Nursing homes across the country, including in Illinois, continue to be ravaged by the coronavirus.
As of Wednesday in Illinois, 305 long-term care facilities had reported coronavirus cases and 296 residents of nursing homes have died, state officials said.
Large outbreaks, such as those found at Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook and the Symphony of Joliet, are often in headlines, but information about other cases is not readily available.
The Illinois Department of Public Health is not releasing the list of facilities affected, citing patient privacy, even though several states have provided that data, according to an NBC News investigation.
Earlier this month, two U.S. Democratic Senators demanded federal health officials to provide a full list of facilities with coronavirus cases “to help prevent the spread of this terrible virus” and to alert staff, first responders, local hospitals and families fearing for their loved ones.
“You’re required to tell family members if a family member has COVID-19. You’re not required to tell another person living in that facility that someone has the virus,” David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy from Harvard Medical School, told NBC News.
When asked Wednesday afternoon what officials would say to families waiting for information from a loved one’s facility, Dr. Ngozi Ezike of IDPH emphasized that this is an “unprecedented time.”
“I think it’s absolutely the intention in every nursing home to contact families when they have a loved one that’s sick and to give updates,” said Dr. Ezike. “I’m just going to speak for the nursing homes when I say I probably think it’s just a backlog and not that (they) don’t want to, but trying to manage all the tasks in addition to caring for loved ones.”