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Coronavirus hits nursing homes hard

By Bob Bong

The coronavirus has hit nursing homes hard since it first appeared in

Illinois last month, Gov. JB Pritzker announced last Sunday in his daily

briefing on the pandemic. One facility in Bridgeview has had six deaths.

Pritzker said 1,860 cases of COVID-19 in Illinois can be traced to nursing

home. There have been 286 related deaths reported at nursing homes, which is

almost one-fourth of all coronavirus deaths in Illinois.

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 as of last Monday.

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, Bridgeview reported 70 confirmed cases; Brookfield has 51;

La Grange had 49; Summit had 35; Lyons had 31; Justice had 25; La Grange Park

had 24; Indian Head Park had 20; Countryside had 11; Bedford Park and Hodgkins

had less than four cases; McCook was reporting no cases.

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.

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

afterÊfunding

ran out for a $349 billion federal relief programÊmeant

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.

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