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Audit reveals health officials’ failures in LaSalle Veterans’ Home COVID outbreak

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(The Center Square) – A scathing audit shows that the Illinois Department of Public Health dropped the ball in its response to a COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home.

Thirty-six veterans died during the outbreak in November 2020.

The Illinois Auditor General concluded that IDPH failed to respond in a timely manner. The audit also found that IDPH didn’t offer any advice or assistance on how to slow the spread of the virus at the home.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said IDPH needs to be held accountable for this tragedy.

“What is good for the goose is good for the gander, and IDPH was coming down on every other nursing home in Illinois but the one that we run, and when it came time for IDPH to show up and help those veterans in LaSalle, they quote, [reading from the audit] ‘did not identify and respond to the seriousness of the outbreak,’” Rose said during Wednesday’s Legislative Audit Commission.

Dozens of lawsuits were filed by the victims’ families against the state of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and the facility itself.

Rose said the Pritzker administration is also to blame.

“My opinion is you have a governor who got caught with his pants down, and he did not take the precautions necessary which he widely criticized the previous governor for,” Rose said.

Pritzker criticized former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for a 2015 Legionnaires Disease outbreak at the Quincy Veterans’ Home during his campaign for governor.

There has been another COVID outbreak at the LaSalle home this year, but Terry Prince, acting director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, said they are in a better place this time.

“We have had outbreaks, but I believe in my heart of hearts that the vaccine has been one of the biggest things that has made this a much different story than back in 2020,” said Prince.

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