* Jennifer Smith Richards and Robert McCoppin at the Tribune…
The state has stopped providing total numbers of novel coronavirus cases and deaths linked to long-term care facilities in Illinois, instead disclosing information only on homes with newer outbreaks.
The Illinois Department of Public Health changed its reporting criteria Friday to highlight nursing homes and other facilities that have had at least one new coronavirus case in the last 28 days. Information about homes that struggled with an outbreak earlier in the pandemic but haven’t had recent new cases no longer is being published.
For example, the Tribune reported May 15 that, for the first time, a nursing home outside the Chicago area had reported at least 20 deaths. That was Villa East in Sangamon County, which had 21 workers and residents die of the coronavirus.
But because Villa East had no new cases recently, it was excluded from this week’s reporting and those 21 deaths have disappeared from the public-facing data. The only downstate nursing home listed with 20 deaths now is Edwardsville Care Center in Madison County near St. Louis. It had one new COVID-19 case since the last public data release on May 15.
“Our priority is to focus on those facilities currently experiencing an outbreak, and also to provide to the public the current status of COVID-19 in Illinois,” department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold wrote in an email to reporters.
That explanation is ridiculous. There are plenty of historical data tables on the IDPH website.
*** UPDATE *** I’m told IDPH will restore the historical outbreak data, but will specify which homes have current outbreaks and which do not.