By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner
More than 85 percent of DuPage County’s 236 COVID-19 deaths originated in long-term care facilities, or LTCs. In McHenry County, the percentage is nearly 80 percent. And in downstate Macon County, all 15 of its deaths are tied to LTCs.
In all, half of Illinois’ COVID-19 deaths are linked to long-term care facilities, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That percentage has been rising since IDPH began posting retirement home deaths on April 19. And as that number rises, the more a majority of Illinoisans learn that they face far less risk than originally thought. Instead, the true risk is heavily concentrated in a few vulnerable demographics.
1. A total of 1,553 of the state’s 3,241 deaths as of May 8th, or 48 percent, were tied to long-term care facilities.
2. The impact of nursing homes is even more pronounced in the collar counties. In addition to the high proportion of deaths in DuPage and McHenry counties, Lake County’s LTC deaths total 63 percent, Kane County’s 57 percent and Will County’s 56 percent. In all, 70 percent of deaths in the Collar counties are tied to LTCs.
3. In Cook County, the epicenter of Illinois’ outbreak, 864 deaths, or almost 40 percent, are from LTCs. That means over a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in Illinois come from Cook County long-term care facilities.
4. In the rest of the state – outside of Cook and the collar counties – 60 percent of all deaths are retirement-home related. When you subtract all LTC deaths downstate, the entire region has just 125 deaths.
5. Eighteen downstate counties had 50 percent or more of their COVID-19 deaths related to LTCs. Macon, Jackson, Jasper, Peoria, Iroquois and Union County all had 100 percent of their deaths tied to retirement homes.
Add the above facts to what Illinoisans are learning about COVID-19, and it’s no wonder Gov. Pritzker’s reopening strategy is facing more resistance.
Recent comorbidity data is providing more transparency about who’s truly at risk – and it isn’t a huge swath of the population. The differences between downstate and Chicago shows a one-size-fits-all reopening makes no sense. The fact that there are nearly one million unemployed Illinoisans – and that Illinois faces a potential depression – means that deaths from poverty, suicide, opioids and more, may eventually overtake COVID-19 deaths.
All of that means Illinois must embrace a new reopening strategy. Look for us to tackle that issue in an upcoming piece.
Read more about COVID-19 and the impact on Illinois:
- Illinois’ COVID-19 crisis: Daily data update
- With New FDA Action, Gov. Pritzker and Dr. Ezike Have No Excuse for Further Stonewalling Antibody Testing
- Pritzker’s top-down reopen strategy will fail large parts of IL: He should expect pushback
- Governor Pritzker’s Plan to Reopen Illinois Makes No Sense
- Open Illinois’ economy: Recessions and depressions kill
- COVID-19: Seven facts that tell us Illinoisans can and must get back to work
- Reopen the Economy While Protecting Those Truly at Risk or Face Another Great Depression