WILLOWBROOK - A nursing home in suburban Chicago where 22 people tested positive for coronavirus has now announced an additional 20 individuals are also infected with COVID-19.
The announcement was made at a press conference Wednesday afternoon with Governor JB Pritzker and state officials.
The total number of infected people at the nursing home is 42 – 30 residents and 12 staff members. The facility is the Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located in Willowbrook in DuPage County.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said staff at the nursing home and at similar facilities statewide are being screened before they start work to prevent further spread of the virus to vulnerable residents.
Facilities also must restrict visitors, Ezike said, acknowledging that can seem harsh to residents and their family members.
“These actions are not taken lightly and are not meant to be cruel,” she said. “Quite the contrary, we’re trying to take care of our residents. It will take every single person in our community to do their part to break this cycle.”
Nursing homes and similar facilities have been a top concern for officials in the U.S., due to residents’ higher risk of contracting the virus and developing other severe illness. In Washington state, which has reported the highest number of deaths associated with COVID-19, 35 of the 65 fatalities have been associated with one nursing home in Kirkland.
Ron Nunziato, the CEO of Extended Care LLC, a consulting company that works with the nursing center, represented the facility at a press conference Sunday held by county health officials. He said the facility began screening staff and residents, increased cleaning and restricted visitors before the first positive test for a resident was confirmed on Friday.
“We’ve been working very closely with the DuPage County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health to promptly identify and monitor individuals who have had recent contact with our individual who has been diagnosed to prevent any further spread within our facility and the community at large,” he said.
“Residents in nursing homes are our most vulnerable population and we are doing everything we can to protect them. We may see cases in other long-term care facilities, which is why it is so important that we all do our part to reduce possible exposure in the community to those who go in and out of these facilities as they provide care to resident,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday in a statement.
Updated guidance for nursing homes:
-Restrict all visitation except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end of life residents
-Restrict all volunteers and non-essential health care personnel (e.g., barbers)
-Cancel all group activities and communal dining
-Implement active screening of residents and health care personnel for fever and respiratory symptoms
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Also on Wednesday, officials announced 128 more cases of coronavirus in Illinois, bringing the state total to 288.
Meanwhile, Chicago’s health commissioner said Tuesday that “I suspect we are going to see a lot more cases in the days to come, because we are seeing a lot more testing,” said Dr. Allison Arwady. “That is a good thing.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Associated Press contributed to this report.