CHRONICLE: Rauner Administration denied General Assembly access to Legionnaires outbreak emails

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Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration is denying a request from a General Assembly member for documents relating the administration’s handling of outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease at the state veterans’ home in Quincy, that killed 13 people and sickened at least 61 residents and staff.

Illinois Public Health Director Nirav Shah said they denied Senator Tom Cullerton’s demand for administration communications about the outbreaks, saying the request was “overly broad” and would be “unduly burdensome” to fulfill.

“We’re asking you to answer a request to fix a problem where not just one person died … 13 people died on your watch and you didn’t fix it,” said Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park). “And you want to play hide the ball?”

Eleven families are suing for negligence after thirteen residents of the Illinois Veterans Home died from Legionnaires’ disease since July 2015, according to a bombshell report from WBEZ. The Rauner administration state failed to stop the outbreaks of the deadly disease despite investing millions of taxpayer dollars.

Rauner has claimed that the administration did everything right, but in an admission that seemed to contradict that statement, conceded the administration is “investigating the possibility of entire system replacements, and perhaps even a new facility.”

Yesterday, it was revealed that on three separate occasions, Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration failed to tell staff at Quincy’s Illinois Veterans’ Home about outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, according to testimony in a hearing this morning. Instead, staff learned of the outbreak through news reports.

The Rauner Administration also waited six days to disclose what they knew was the beginning of a major Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the state veterans’ home in Quincy. 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 delay was “inexcusable” and “mind-boggling.”

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