Pritzker Says Long-Term Care Facility Staff To Receive Expanded COVID-19 Testing

By Benjamin Cox on April 20, 2020 at 7:06pm

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today that long-term care facility staff will now be tested regularly to combat the spread of the coronavirus. “First, let’s discuss facilities without known COVID-19 outbreaks. We’re working to test all residents and all staff at those homes. We’re prioritizing testing current long-term care facilities that are home to our populations where COVID infection is more likely to lead to higher severity cases, especially among black and brown communities. This testing at non-COVID facilities will allow us to identify early the presence of COVID-19 in a facility and isolate those cases before widespread transmission. With support from the Illinois National Guard and the Illinois Department of Transportation, our teams delivered tests to our first two homes over the weekend. And we’ll do the same for an additional 10 facilities today, with more to come. Second, in facilities with known COVID-19 cases, we continue to operate under the assumption that residents displaying symptoms of COVID-19 has COVID-19, and should be isolated accordingly and receive the appropriate care. One change, however, is that we’ve altered our protocol related to staff. In prior weeks, we’ve advised that staff be given pre-shift wellness checks, including taking temperatures. We will now be ramping up testing on all staff who work at these facilities allowing us to determine who is coming in and out of an infected home, possibly asymptomatic, and should instead be at home in isolation. This will be critical to our work to prevent further spread at these facilities.”

Pritzker says that any long-term care facility worker has access to any of the state’s drive-up testing sites. Pritzker says that long-term care facilities are also a priority on the state’s PPE stock list. “The state has now provided PPE to all 102 counties and made clear to local health departments that when it comes to distribution, the long-term care facilities are priority recipients alongside healthcare workers and first responders. Long-term care facilities that run low on PPE contact their local health department who provide it. They, in turn, can get replenished by the state. As you know, we are continually scouring the global PPE supply chain and making acquisitions so that we can fulfill these requests as quickly as possible.”

Pritzker warned long-term facilities that don’t abide by the state’s guidelines will suffer penalties. “Thus far facilities seem to have been responsive to IDPH guidance and compliance with IDPH teams on the ground. Just like our other healthcare workers, staff at these facilities are frontline workers dedicating their days and nights to caring for seniors and doing all that they can to ensure a safe and healthy home for their residents. We as a state are deeply grateful for their service. That said, we will not hesitate to hold any bad actors at the management level accountable. These private facilities are home to some of our most vulnerable Illinoisans, and we expect owners and managers be responsible for their care and to take every action at their disposal to keep them safe.”

Long-term care facilities in 21 Illinois counties have reported the majority of COVID-19 cases. The information about which facilities have 2 or more cases are now available on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website. The information about the facilities will be updated weekly. Currently, no facilities in West Central Illinois have reported a COVID-19 case.