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State reports COVID-19 outbreak at Manteno Veterans’ Home

The Illinois Department of Public Health graphic shows the rate of community COVID-19 spread throughout Illinois. Green means low spread, yellow is medium and orange is high. Kankakee County, where the Manteno Veterans' Home is located, is at a medium level.

SPRINGFIELD – At least 16 residents and six staff at the state-run veterans home in Manteno have tested positive for COVID-19 and one COVID-positive resident who was in hospice died Wednesday morning, according to the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

All of the positive residents had received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and all but one of them were up-to-date on boosters, according to a news release from the department. Some of the residents are showing mild symptoms with most experiencing no symptoms, according to IDVA.

The department did not share the vaccination or condition status of the affected staff.

A staff physician was assessing the need for anti-viral post-exposure medicine Wednesday, according to the news release.

The resident who died was in hospice care and “completely asymptomatic,” according to the news release, which noted he died “only hours after his booster shot and results of a COVID positive result.”

The COVID-positive residents have been moved to a negative pressure isolation unit, and the Illinois Department of Public Health “only hours after the tests came back positive” to help mitigate spread.

A recent report from the state’s auditor general faulted IDPH for failing to respond swiftly to a November 2020 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home which claimed 36 resident lives. The auditor found IDPH didn’t visit for 11 days after the first reported cases. Pritzker and IDPH officials last month, amid the audit’s release, noted U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines discouraged on-site visits at the time due to the rapid spread of the virus.

Current CDC guidelines will still allow visitors at the Manteno home amid the outbreak, according to IDVA, which noted that “families have been notified that we are in outbreak status and that rescheduling visitation should be considered.”

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our military veterans and the heroic staff who care for them. We take this very seriously,” the department said in the news release. “We are following recommendations from local health officials, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the IDPH to safeguard everyone at the facility.”

Precautions include daily health screenings, routine testing of residents and staff, use of N-95 respirators, face shields and other personal protective equipment, cleaning protocols, and social distancing.

Residents are being encouraged to stay in their rooms and communal activities have been “curtailed,” with staff developing leisure activities in accordance with social distancing guidelines.  

The Manteno home is one of five state-run veterans homes in Illinois and is located in Kankakee County. That area had a medium level of COVID-19 community spread as of Wednesday, while 32 counties in the state had a high level of spread.

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