Illinois is no longer giving the total numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths at long-term care facilities. Instead, the state will disclose information only about recent outbreaks. The data change makes it more difficult to track new and previous cases.
WBEZ has been collecting cases of COVID-19 and deaths at nursing homes since the state began releasing the data in April. We’ve posted current and historical data here.
An analysis of Friday’s data release shows there were 51 more facilities with virus cases this week. One of those is the Auberge at Orchard Park in Morton Grove, which had 41 cases as of this week, according to the data. The facility did not appear in state health data released the prior week.
The latest data also show that 73 facilities with previous cases and deaths were removed from the Illinois Department of Public Health website.
IDPH on Friday began to provide information only on nursing homes and other facilities that have at least one new coronavirus case in the last four weeks. The department has stopped publishing information about facilities that had cases earlier in the pandemic but have not had any new cases in the past 28 days.
“Our priority is to focus on those facilities currently experiencing an outbreak, and also to provide to the public the current status of COVID-19 in Illinois,” IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold wrote in an email to reporters explaining the change.
But some have criticized the change, saying that people looking for long-term facilities for loved ones won’t have all the information they need to make a decision. AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo said the group was troubled by the change because it prevents people from seeing historical data about the virus at individual facilities.
“This information is crucial, especially for those who are in the already difficult position of seeking a facility they can trust,” Gallo said.
Of the more than 4,710 people in Illinois who have died of the virus, more than 2,000 of them were residents of long-term facilities.
– The Associated Press contributed