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Dozens of deaths at Illinois veterans nursing home prompt state investigation

The LaSalle Veterans home was hit with a coronavirus outbreak in late October.

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A COVID-19 testing station in Austin, Texas
A COVID-19 testing station in Austin, Texas
(Sergio Flores/Getty)
Updated: November 25, 2020 - 11:12am

Illinois state officials have opened investigations into a coronavirus outbreak at a veterans' nursing home that infected nearly 200 residents and staff members and resulted in 27 deaths.

The office of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Veteran's Affairs are attempting to determine the cause of the outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans' Home. On Tuesday, the agency requested an independent probe on the matter.

"The tragedy of what has unfolded at the veterans' home cannot be understated," said state Sen. Sue Rezin, who represents the district where the nursing home is located. "I'm glad that the director has called for an independent investigation and agree that there are lessons to be learned from this terrible outbreak that has claimed the lives of 27 of our nation's heroes."

The outbreak was first identified by the Chicago Tribune in late October when a staff member and a resident tested positive for the virus. The home had been largely unaffected by the pandemic until that point. 

Veterans Affairs Director Linda Chapa LaVia said at a state Senate hearing Tuesday that it is no "coincidence" that cases at the home "began to rise just as cases rose dramatically within the surrounding community."

Pritzker, a Democrat, said an infection control team was dispatched to the long-term care facility, which now has 101 residents, 40 of whom have tested positive for the virus.

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