Coronavirus deaths: Nearly half of Illinois COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities, according to IDPH

CHICAGO (WLS) -- New public health data obtained by the I-Team shows the residents of Illinois long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, are particularly vulnerable to the devastating impact of COVID-19. Infections and deaths have jumped in the past week and there is also an increase in the number of counties and long-term care facilities impacted.

Long-term care and nursing homes in Illinois account for about 15% of the total number of people infected but almost half of the people who have died. That means coronavirus has more dire consequences for seniors living in these facilities, such as the more than 100,000 residents in long-term care across Illinois.

IDPH data analyzed by the I-Team reveals that 1,975 residents of long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19, that's 49% of all the COVID deaths in Illinois. While the increase in deaths from last week is slightly less, there are three more counties with infected long-term care facilities and 50 more facilities reporting COVID patients. 460 total long-term care facilities statewide report at least one case of COVID-19.

State health officials report 13,218 COVID-19 cases linked to long-term care facilities.

"He's got it now. So fear of him contracting is over. Now the fear, ... he needs to survive," Lucy Newsome told the I-Team in an interview on Friday.

Her father, Antonio Rigoni will turn 99 in September, but right now he is fighting COVID-19 in a south suburban nursing home.

"He's not only very old, he has congestive heart failure and COPD. So, you know, he is a sitting duck," Newsome said. "Other than the fact longevity runs in his family, his mom died at over 100-years-old. We were all hoping that he was going to break that record and we still hold out hope he's one tough cookie," she continued.

Friday afternoon Gov. JB Pritzker said the state is delivering thousands of coronavirus testing swabs to nursing homes and that all nursing home residents and staff will be among those tested.

For Antonio Rigoni's family, the key now isn't testing--but treatment.

"My last phone conversation with him was last weekend, and it was so disturbing because he's very disoriented and the nurse took a live shot of him, which made me cry for a day, because he struggled to speak and the only thing he could spit out in a cracked voice was Lucy, and that was that," Newsome told the I-Team.

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