By Bob Bong
The coronavirus has hit nursing homes hard since it first appeared in Illinois last month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Sunday in his daily briefing on the pandemic.
Six of those deaths were of elderly residents at Bridgeview Health Care Center, 8100 S. Harlem Ave. in Bridgeview, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. All six died at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and all had underlying conditions. A total of 16 people have died in Bridgeview of COVID-19 related causes.
Pritzker said 1,860 cases of COVID-19 in Illinois can be traced to nursing homes. There have been 286 related deaths reported at nursing homes, which is almost one-fourth of all coronavirus deaths in Illinois.
The nursing home confirmed 21 cases of the virus had been found and said it sent a letter to the families of residents who tested positive and were hospitalized.
The nursing home said residents are assessed at least every eight hours. Those showing symptoms are tested and if positive for the virus are sent to the hospital.
Also, hard hit has been Smith Village in Chicago’s Beverly community. The nursing home said there have been 18 confirmed cases among patients and two deaths. Seven staff members also tested positive for the virus.
Last week, the nursing home said they had finished testing all employees and residents and shared the results with their families.
Smith Crossing in Orland Park reported two confirmed cases among its memory care patients who are being treated. A patient in the independent living section who had tested positive earlier in April is now symptom-free and recuperating at another facility.
Other area nursing homes that have reported confirmed cases include: Aperion Care Burbank, 1 case; Burbank Rehab-Vera Care Stickney, which reported six cases and three deaths.
“We knew even before we got into having the large numbers of long-term care facilities with cases that that would be one of our hardest areas,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “You know the congregate settings, by definition, it's hard to be able to do the physical or social distancing and be able to separate and isolate people.”
She said the state has restrictions on visitors at such homes as well as increased cleaning, PPE requirements and increased monitoring of patients.
“But even with those practices. We've obviously seen cases,” she said, adding that the state is beginning the process of sending testing supplies to neighborhoods or areas with high COVID-19 activity.
“And so, if it's a hot zone, if you will, we're worried about the facility in the midst of that and so we're sending materials for testing to those locations so that we can do aggressive testing of the staff and people who would be in that facility,” she said.
The number of deaths and cases continues to fluctuate daily.
On Sunday, the Stickney Township Health Department said there have been 113 confirmed cases with 12 deaths in Burbank, Stickney and Forest View.
As of Monday, Oak Lawn reported 186 cases of COVID-19, according to the CCDPH. Figures for other local communities as of Monday had Evergreen Park with 77 cases, Chicago Ridge with 73, Palos Hills with 54, Hickory Hills with 36, and Worth with 22.
Pritzker said Monday state efforts to mitigate the novel coronavirus’ impact on Illinoisans, and residents’ efforts to “protect” their communities, are working.
State health officials announced 1,151 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday and 59 additional deaths. The state added almost 2,800 cases and 158 deaths over the weekend, bringing the new total to 31,508 people who have tested positive for the virus and 1,349 who have died from it statewide.
Nationally, more than 766,664 Americans have caught the virus, and more than 41,313 have died, as of Monday afternoon.
The numbers of new confirmed cases and COVID-19-related deaths continue to rise, but the governor said “our curve is bending the right way.”
Pritzker said the number of patients who have or who are suspected of having the virus, and who are in an intensive care unit, are both increasing at a slower rate than originally projected, had the governor’s stay-at-home and order and others not been implemented.
“With the current mitigation strategies in place, we may not have reached our peak yet, but your actions are helping to keep that peak as low as possible,” he said.
As of Sunday, 4,599 Illinoisans were hospitalized with COVID-19-related symptoms.
New data shared by Pritzker indicates that of those patients, 1,239 are in an intensive care unit occupying 40 percent of the state’s 3,100 ICU beds.
The number of those needing ventilators is declining as well. On Monday, only 23 percent of the 3,200 ventilators in the state were being used by COVID-19 patients.
According to data shared by the comptroller’s office, the state spent $172.62 million on coronavirus-related goods as of April 17.
Payroll Protection Plan
On Monday, Small Business Administration officials said Illinois fared "very well" in the first-come, first-served, chaotic race for the federal Payroll Protection Program. Statewide, 69,893 small businesses were approved for loans averaging about $229,000 each. That compares to the nationwide average of $206,000.
SBA said 60 new Illinois lenders joined the program that doled out a total of $16 billion in loans. Approved businesses should have money in hand within 10 days of their loan approval, officials said.
The SBA said it stopped accepting applications and enrolling new lenders after funding ran out for a $349 billion federal relief program meant to help small businesses survive the coronavirus outbreak.
A new relief package may be approved this week adding $250 billion to the relief efforts.
The SBA could not say how many businesses and nonprofits were shut out of the program; only the lenders have that information, they said. They also could not estimate how many small businesses might’ve closed since the coronavirus outbreak and stay-home orders began taking effect across the country.
The loans are meant to help businesses meet payroll for eight weeks, roughly to the end of June, and will convert to grants if proceeds are used to pay workers and cover rent and other approved expenses.