Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's administration came under fire for keeping a veterans' home open after a Legionnaires’ outbreak through water contamination on the site resulted in 13 deaths.
As the criticism grew, Rauner crafted a plan to show just how much he trusts the safety of the location: He planned an extended sleepover.
"Dave MacDonna, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, said Rauner arrived at the home around 10 p.m. Wednesday, January 3. A spokeswoman for Rauner said he planned to spend several days there with residents and staff," the Chicago Tribune reported.
“He wants to gain a more thorough understanding of the clinical, water-treatment and residential operations of the home,” spokeswoman Rachel Bold said, per the report.
On January 9, CLTV reported that the governor was still sleeping at the location.
"Rauner has been staying at the home for a nearly week. He is expected to stay at the Quincy home for one more night. His office said he is meeting with everybody there about their safety," CLTV reported.
State lawmakers held a hearing this week on the state's response to the Legionnaires’ outbreak. They demanded a better plan for addressing safety at the home, according to CLTV.
“How much longer and how many people have to die before we say enough is enough?” Democratic Sen. Michael Hastings said.
So far, over $6 million in state funds have been spent to upgrade the home's water treatment system, CLTV reported.
"But the issue remains. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control tested 48 samples from the facility. One came back positive," the report said.
It appears that the veterans who died were sickened by bacteria-contaminated water, reports said.
“Their families contend they weren’t diagnosed nor given antibiotics quickly enough to fend off what typically is a treatable form of waterborne pneumonia,” WBEZ reported.
Illinois officials are under fire for how they handled the situation.
“Illinois’ senior U.S. senator, Dick Durbin, is saying the facility should be shuttered until its water system is fully safe. And he said it’s a ‘scandal’ and an ‘insult’ to veterans that the state hasn’t been able to rid the facility’s water system of Legionella bacteria over the course of nearly 30 months,” WBEZ reported.
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Image credit: "Bruce Rauner,” Dave © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/