The Latest: Lawmakers demand permanent plan for Quincy
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- The Latest on a legislative hearing about the Legionnaires' disease outbreak (all times local):
Illinois lawmakers are demanding Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration deliver a permanent plan of action to control an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
Republican Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills said Tuesday that the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Public Health should deliver a proposal to build a new housing unit at the facility where Legionnaires' has contributed to the deaths of 13 residents since 2015.
McSweeney spoke at a legislative hearing in Chicago called to examine the outbreak that has sickened dozens. Legionnaires' is caused by bacteria in water systems.
McSweeney says a new veterans home in Chicago is costing $75 million. He says the state could delay other capital expenditures, get federal help and build a new dorm for less than that and better protect residents.
A federal health official says Legionnaires' disease is on the rise nationally partly because of an aging population and an aging infrastructure.
Sam Posner is associate director for epidemiological science for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
He testified before a joint Illinois House-Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Tuesday. Lawmakers were examining an outbreak of Legionnaires' that has contributed to the deaths of 13 residents at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy since 2015.
Posner says there were 6,000 cases of Legionnaires' nationally last year. That's up from 5,000 the year before. The disease is caused by bacteria that multiplies in water supplies and sickens particularly elderly people who inhale the vapor.
Dr. Nirav Shah is director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. He says there were about 300 cases in Illinois last year.
Officials say it would cost about $25 million to replace the plumbing at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy to mitigate Legionnaires' disease.
But Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Jeffries says installing all new piping at the 130-year-old facility could create separate problems.
Jeffries told a joint House-Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee in Chicago Tuesday that the bacteria that causing the pneumonia-like disease is in the soil. Digging up old pipes could release the bacteria present in the soil or from the old pipes.
And she says new piping is susceptible to growth of biofilm where the bacteria can collect.
Thirteen residents at the Quincy home have died from Legionnaires' disease since 2015. Dozens more have been sickened.
A Republican senator says the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health should resign for a six-day delay in publicizing a Legionnaires' disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
Sen. Sam McCann of Plainview criticized Dr. Nirav Shah in a legislative hearing Tuesday because he doesn't have Gov. Bruce Rauner's cellphone number. Shah learned of an outbreak at Quincy on Aug. 21, 2015.
He notified Rauner's senior staff on Aug. 24. The public was notified Aug. 27.
Shah says the important thing in such an emergency is to notify the facility. Quincy home staff were told within 27 minutes and ordered to restrict water usage that "turned the tide on the epidemic."
Legionnaires' is caused by bacteria in water vapor which sickens people when inhaled. Thirteen residents have died at Quincy since 2015.
The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health says the agency's website has incorrect information about Legionnaires' disease.
Democratic Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego questioned Dr. Nirav Sha Tuesday at a legislative hearing about when the department informed the public about the 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.
Kifowit thought the public should have been told earlier in August 2015 based on IDPH website information that Legionnaires' has a gestation period of three to five days.
Shah says that will be corrected because the gestation period is 10 to 12 days.
The director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs says one reason Legionnaires' disease continues to appear at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy is because officials are watching for it.
The sprawling facility in western Illinois has been the site of 13 deaths from Legionnaires' since 2015. The bacteria that causes it is in water vapor which residents and staff might inhale.
Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Jeffries says "We continue to find more cases because we are looking for more cases.
Jeffries say the number of cases is down dramatically because officials have installed filters on faucets, heated water and chemically treated it to remove the bacteria.
The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health says he wouldn't hesitate to place his elderly father at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
Thirteen residents at the home have died since 2015 because of complications of Legionnaires' disease.
Dr. Nirav Shah says he has seen how well staff cares for the 349 residents at the home.
He says that "if my father were a veteran and he needed long-term care, I would not hesitate for a second putting him at the home at Quincy."
Shah is testifying before a joint House-Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in Chicago.
Lawmakers are scheduled to question members of Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration about the deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy .
The House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees plan a joint hearing Tuesday in Chicago on the illness that has contributed to the deaths of 13 residents since 2015 and sickened dozens of others.
Democratic Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park is chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. He expects testimony from Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Jeffries and Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health . A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention representative will also attend.
The CDC declared in a report last week that eliminating the bacteria from the home's water is unlikely.