CHRONICLE: House votes unanimously to investigate Rauner on Legionnaire’s outbreak response

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A rare 104-0 vote in the Illinois House approved a resolution asking Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration to provide a full report of the administration’s response to the outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy. It requests the report include what officials “knew and when they knew it.”

It was previously revealed the Rauner Administration waited six days to disclose what they knew was the beginning of a major outbreak. A public health expert, Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Center for Health Security in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the Rauner administration’s six day delay informing the public about the outbreak was “inexcusable” and “mind-boggling.”

Additionally, on three separate occasions, Rauner’s administration failed to tell staff at the home about outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease. Instead, staff learned of the outbreak through news reports.

Last month, the Illinois Senate unanimously approved a resolution calling on the Illinois Auditor General to perform an audit of Rauner’s response to the outbreak, as four new cases of the disease were confirmed.

The Senate-requested audit would examine Rauner’s management of the response to the outbreaks that started in 2015, causing 13 deaths. Lawmakers argued that the audit is necessary because the Rauner administration has refused to provide requested documents that would allow them to examine whether the response was adequate.

“The governor’s office has stonewalled our bipartisan committee’s requests for transparency and accountability,” said Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, State Senator Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park. “Gov. Rauner cannot continue to hide behind smoke and mirrors. We want answers now.”

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both Democrats, have also called on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to play a more active role in the investigation and control of the outbreaks.

“Despite their assertions otherwise, it has become abundantly clear that Illinois’ current administration has failed to adequately address this crisis in a timely fashion. As a result, the lives of veterans living at IVH Quincy — not to mention staff working at the facility and families visiting the facility — have either been put at risk, or lost,” they wrote to Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC acting director, according to the Quincy Herald-Whig.

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