CHICAGO (WLS) -- New data from the Illinois Department of Public Health shows COVID-19 cases grew exponentially since last week. Coronavirus cases are now in more counties and more facilities.
"All of these sort of group communal settings are opportunities for COVID to spread very quickly, and it's in a vulnerable population," said Dr. Susan Bleasdale, Chief Quality Officer and Infectious Disease Specialist for UI Health.
According to new state data released Friday and examined by the I-Team, corona-virus cases at long term care facilities more than doubled the past few days; from 1,860 cases to more than 4,200. The number of deaths has also surged from 286 to 624.
There has been a 67 percent jump in the number of infected nursing homes in Illinois. More counties have nursing homes with COVID-19 cases than just a few days ago.
Public health authorities say with increased testing, the number of positive corona virus cases grows.
"The older population are at the higher risk of dying and having sever complications from COVID. So it's not that it's related to the quality of the nursing facility, it's just related to being in an extended care facility," Dr. Bleasdale told the I-Team.
"I think we will see an explosion of lawsuits resulting from this pandemic," said ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer.
He says state-licensed nursing homes and other healthcare facilities in Illinois do face liability for deaths that occur while patients are under their care.
"Now there's a wrinkle here, the governor's order, executive order from April 1 granted a limited form of immunity to nursing homes and other public health facilities for injury or death that occurs during this virus and under that immunity nursing homes are liable only if they have shown gross negligence or willful misconduct. That's a higher standard than the typical negligence standard for liability." said Soffer.
Half of all COVID-19 deaths in Cook County have been in nursing homes. This is a common ratio across the country.
The White House Thursday promised additional personal protection equipment for employees at the nation's 15,000 nursing homes.
Illinois coronavirus: Stunning new numbers for COVID-19 cases in IL nursing homes