The Perfect Enemy | COVID-19 outbreak reported at Manteno veterans’ home
July 6, 2022
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A COVID-19 outbreak at a state-run veterans’ home in Manteno was reported Wednesday as the prevalence of the virus has steadily risen again throughout Illinois.

Sixteen residents and six staff members at the home, which is about 50 miles south of Chicago, have tested positive for the virus, but the majority of the residents have shown no symptoms while a “small number” are showing mild symptoms, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

However, one resident already under hospice care “and completely asymptomatic” died Wednesday morning, hours after testing positive for the virus and getting a booster shot, the agency said.

The residents who’ve tested positive have been moved into isolation and are being closely monitored by staff from the agency, it said.

“All the residents who have tested positive have received at least two doses of the vaccine and 15 are up to date with their boosters,” according to a statement from veterans’ affairs. “A staff physician is assessing residents’ need for antiviral post exposure medication.”

The COVID-19 outbreak at the Manteno home comes a month after Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration was criticized by the state auditor general for its handling of a November 2020 coronavirus outbreak that killed 36 military veterans at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home.

The auditor general’s review blamed the state’s Public Health Department for failing to “identify and respond to the seriousness of the outbreak.” That outbreak, however, occurred before vaccines for the virus existed.

The veterans’ affairs department said it’s continuing daily health screenings of its Manteno home residents, conducting routine COVID-19 testing of staff and residents, using N-95 respirator masks with protective face shields, maintaining social-distancing practices, using gloves and gowns, and following “intensified cleaning and disinfection protocols.”

And unlike at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, where public health department officials didn’t show up at the facility for 11 days after the outbreak began, public health officials were on site in Manteno within hours after the tests came back positive, veterans’ affairs said.

Since early April, Illinois has seen a steady rise in COVID-19 cases. On Wednesday, 5,737 cases were reported, according to public health officials, but they’re still not as high as the 8,411 cases — the peak of the latest jump in cases — reported May 13.

jgorner@chicagotribune.com