COVID-19 death toll at Ill. nursing homes higher than anyone expected, Pritzker says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Four residents of a Lincoln Park nursing home have died after contracting COVID-19, while another 15 people at St. Mary's Home are sick.

St. Mary's Home, which is operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor, is among the growing number of nursing homes with coronavirus outbreaks.

Officials at the nursing home said that they have closely followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines since mid-March. The facility has 76 beds for residents, and another 50 apartments in an adjoining building has been hard-hit by the virus.

Nearly half of the more than 700 nursing homes in the state have had confirmed cases of COVID-19. More than 100 have had a patient, resident, or staff member die.

"It's not a situation where you can predict a loved one is going to be safe in one of these places," said Andrea Donovan, a nursing home consultant.

Donovan, who consults families about placing loved ones in nursing homes, said social distancing is very difficult in most homes where hands-on care is necessary.

Even though families are restricted from visiting nursing homes, there are numerous ways for the virus to get in from the outside, from packages to staffers.

Safety equipment in many homes, from personal protective equipment to disinfectant, is in short supply.

"I'm frustrated...very hard to deal with congregate settings," said Gov. JB Pritzker.

About 3,600 people have died in nursing homes across the country.

In Illinois, about 300 people in nursing homes have died from COVID-19.

Pritzker said that toll is higher than anyone expected.
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