Illinois nursing homes now account for 44% of the state’s deaths due to COVID-19, a WBEZ analysis of state health data shows.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Friday afternoon posted data showing that 1,082 coronavirus deaths were tied to long-term-care facilities and assisted living establishments — 73% more than the 625 reported a week earlier and nearly four times the 286 reported on April 17.
In all, there have been 2,457 coronavirus deaths in Illinois, state data show.
The nursing home with the most deaths remained Symphony of Joliet, a 214-bed facility at 306 N. Larkin Ave. in Joliet. The death tally there was 24 as of Friday, according to the data. That number was revised downward from 26 a week earlier.
The next highest counts were at Elevate Care Chicago North, which had 22 deaths, Windsor Park Manor in west suburban Carol Stream, which had 20, and Glenview Terrace Nursing Center in north suburban Glenview, which had 19.
Officials had confirmed 7,542 cases of the illness by Friday, up from 4,298 a week earlier, according to the data. About a quarter of the state’s long-term care and assisted living facilities now have at least one COVID-19 illness.
The nursing home with the state’s highest number of cases is Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion, a 222-bed facility in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. That facility now has 151 confirmed coronavirus infections. Woodbridge, 2242 N. Kedzie Blvd., is also tied to seven COVID-19 deaths, according to the state data.
The facility’s administrator, Patricia Correa, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The IDPH data included both nursing home residents and staff members but did not distinguish between the two.
Some nursing home workers have accused their employers of providing insufficient staffing and personal protective equipment and of underreporting COVID-19-related illnesses and deaths.
State health officials said last month they were stepping up coronavirus testing in nursing homes and requiring additional safety measures.
As the nursing homes struggled to contain the virus, a three-year union contract covering about 10,000 workers in 100 facilities expired Friday. The workers include certified nursing assistants, housekeepers, dietary aides, activity aides and others.
The Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois said its members at 64 of those nursing homes had voted to authorize a strike that would start May 8. The union said its demands included more protective equipment, improved safety protocols and a bigger bonus for work during the pandemic.
The union said it was also demanding starting pay of $16 an hour for the nursing assistants and $15 for the other job classifications.
The Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities, which is representing the nursing homes in the negotiations, this week accused SEIU of exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The association said on Friday it had moved toward the union’s base-pay demand during negotiations and that the sides were holding a bargaining session Friday afternoon
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration, meanwhile, faced a new lawsuit over its oversight of a nursing home hard hit by the virus. The Town of Cicero filed suit against IDPH and City View Multicare Center, a 485-bed facility at 5825 W. Cermak Road.
The town alleges that City View did not properly quarantine patients, that staff members did not wear protective equipment and that the state has not held City View accountable.
The IDPH data posted on Friday show seven COVID-19 deaths and 34 confirmed cases of the illness tied to City View.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the IDPH director, acknowledged the City View outbreak and said that the department’s goal is to mitigate outbreaks inside nursing facilities once cases already exist there.
Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio about criminal justice. Follow him at @ChipMitchell1. WBEZ’s Esther Yoon-Ji Kang, Dave McKinney, Tony Arnold and Elliott Ramos contributed reporting.