Deaths at long-term care facilities now account for 44 percent, up from just over a third last week, of all coronavirus fatalities in the state, according to data released by the Illinois Department of Public Health and analyzed by NBC 5 Investigates.
As of Friday evening, IDPH reported 1,082 deaths and 7,542 cases in long-term care facilities. That’s up from 625 deaths and 4,298 cases just one week ago. IDPH is updating data weekly.
The spike in new cases comes as the state recently ramped up testing in long-term care facilities.
IDPH is working to test all residents and staff at facilities without known coronavirus outbreaks to identify and isolate infected people early. At facilities with known cases, employees will be tested to make sure they are not spreading the virus unknowingly.
“The Illinois Department of Public Health has prioritized protecting the healthcare workers and residents at these facilities. These are some of our most vulnerable Illinoisans, and the state will do everything in its power to protect them,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at his daily briefing on Wednesday.
Nursing home advocates said the increase in testing is overdue.
“We think more work has to be done, so that the public gets an accurate view of what’s really going on,” said Pat Comstock, executive director of the Health Care Council of Illinois, which represents more than 300 nursing facilities in the state.
Comstock said members support IDPH’s release of nursing home data but are concerned that only reporting data weekly provides a limited snapshot.
For example, according to a lawsuit filed by Cicero officials against City View Multicare Center, the virus has spread to 164 residents and 41 staff members, with 9 residents and 1 employee dying from COVID-19 complications. The IDPH website lists 34 cases and 7 deaths for City View.
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“We’re concerned that there is a delay between what we report and when it goes to the website,” Comstock said. “The number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths per facility are outdated.”
HCCI said it would like to see the state report the numbers with context, including how many patients are in isolation, in the hospital and in recovery. IDPH said the data is as accurate as what county health departments and nursing homes report to them.