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*** UPDATED x1 *** Illinois National Guard medical staff sent to two state veterans’ homes

Thursday, Dec 10, 2020

* Hannah Meisel asked Gov. Pritzker on Tuesday if the National Guard was being sent to the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. He gave her the brush-off, saying “I don’t know where you get your rumors from.” That was a needless and disrespectful jab even if it wasn’t true. Turns out, Hannah’s sourcing was right. Here’s her scoop

Members of the Illinois National Guard staff have been sent to the LaSalle and Quincy Veterans’ homes to assist with COVID-19 testing and screening at the facilities, Gov. JB Pritzker’s office confirmed Thursday.

It’s not a deployment and those going into the facilities are National Guard staff members and not reserve members. But Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said the homes are in need of help with daily COVID-19 testing.

In a statement Thursday, La Salle County Veterans Assistance Commission Superintendent Steven Kreitzer said the staff are “medical units that will be utilized to maintain records of temperature checks and COVID-19 testing as well as make sure PPE is being worn at all times properly.” […]

The extra help comes after a massive deadly outbreak of the virus is mostly under control at the LaSalle facility, and a smaller outbreak at the Quincy home is ongoing. A 33rd resident at LaSalle died this week after testing positive for COVID-19, meaning more than a quarter of the residents in the home since the outbreak was first reported on Nov. 1 have died. There have been two COVID deaths at Quincy.

Hannah also asked Pritzker this week if the LaSalle Veterans’ Home director had been terminated based on new information or information from the initial probe. And if the firing was based on old info, she asked, what took him so long to do it? Pritzker sidestepped the question.

Every time he does something like that, I wonder what else he’s not telling us. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

*** UPDATE *** The governor today

We also have the Illinois National Guard on the ground, assisting efforts at LaSalle, with their arrival at Quincy and Manteno set for Monday, providing staff support for screening and handling testing data tracking so that medical staff can focus on direct patient support.

Two days ago, I was asked here about the National Guard being deployed to our homes, and I dismissed it as a rumor. In retrospect, I had directed every member of my administration to move quickly to respond with every available resource to assist IDVA, and the National Guard was asked to be of assistance before I was made aware.

That’s a good thing. I want my administration to be nimble and responsive, but I want to apologize for being dismissive when I was asked about it.

I will say this is just one example of how we are directing every available resource to our veterans’ community through the period of exceptional risk here in Illinois. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to safeguard our most vulnerable, especially those who lived to serve.

That was well-done.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

48 Comments
  1. - NotRich - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:04 pm:

    LaSalle Veteran’s Home. IDES, the dishonesty from this Administration is comparable to Rauner.. How dare you question us..


  2. - Gravy Bond - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    I wonder if Pritzker is wishing he had run for Senate.


  3. - Ducky LaMoore - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:13 pm:

    I heard his condescending reaction to Hannah’s question and thought there must be no way in the world the Natty Guard would be going anywhere near the veterans homes. Not a good look at all. Very maddening.


  4. - essentially working - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:17 pm:

    It’s been interesting watching over the last several months to see just how thin skinned Pritzker appears to be. He probably wasn’t questioned or defied much if ever in his previous life.


  5. - SSL - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:18 pm:

    No doubt JB has been under a lot of pressure, but that’s when leadership reveals itself. What we’re seeing isn’t great.


  6. - The Dude Abides - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:22 pm:

    Given how bad Rauner was I really had high hopes for Pritzker. I’m beginning to think that we are continuing our run on bad Governors.


  7. - thisjustinagain - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:23 pm:

    Clearly the strain on JB is telling, although some of it is actually his own making, by not going through gubernatorial appointments promptly and letting some things slide too long. I also believe he’s been sometimes itching to tell people off that deserve it (such as fake media *cough* Amy) and he obviously blew it with Hannah. ;


  8. - Moe Berg - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:27 pm:

    Wonder if he’s starting to have second thoughts about his own, highly-paid “superstars.”

    The inept and unloved Bruce Rauner’s not going to be on the ballot in 2022. Someone financed by Ken Griffin is.


  9. - FIREDup!! - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:28 pm:

    Comparing Pritzker to Rauner is ludicrous. Do you think Rauner would hold daily briefings? Has he screwed up on this? Absolutely. This is a global pandemic, not a Legionnaires outbreak. Give me a break…


  10. - Dutch - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:32 pm:

    Yeah, I listened to that whole press conference. The Governor handled that question poorly.


  11. - FormerParatrooper - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:33 pm:

    Your not alone in wondering what else he is not telling us.

    The Gov rightfully criticized Rauner about legionnaires. Rauner was side stepping and passing the buck. The same criticism applies here as far as some feel we are not being told the truth.


  12. - Merica - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:39 pm:

    I think it’s kind of crazy that the State runs these homes. Whether it’s Rauner or Prizker, regardless of politics or ideology, this is a major responsibility, and peoples lives are in the State’s hands. And people’s lives are on the line outside of the 8:30-5pm M-F union and management work schedules. More related to the thread, I think the head of each agency is ultimately accountable for these things, and anything less is a bad message.


  13. - Candy Dogood - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:41 pm:

    Exempt folks also still have rights under the state’s civil service commission, so if they’re firing someone for cause it takes time to put all of the ducks in the row. Relieving one of duties is easier to do than to fire them for cause and have the documentation to prove it if they file an appeal with the civil service commission or press suit for wrongful dismissal, which has also occurred in the past with the State’s VA.

    To the other stuff — maybe the Governor hadn’t been briefed on the proposal/plan/ask to send in National Guard personnel, especially with the involvement of the federal government with the intergovernmental agreement, but regardless that kind of response could do with more coaching.

    “That’s something I am not aware of at this time, but it’s possible that it could be something discussed at a lower level, let me have my staff follow up with you.”


  14. - Ferris Wheeler - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:43 pm:

    Staff who question decision-making are not welcome in this administration.

    Democratic lawmakers who question the decisions of the governor’s office are treated with contempt.

    Reporters that challenge the prefabricated storylines that are pre-packaged for public consumption are treated as enemy combatants.

    Illinois leads the Midwest in deaths per capita, and we are ranked 10th in the country.

    It is fair to ask why.


  15. - Citizen Kane - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:46 pm:

    The Governor’s snarky response to Hannah was uncalled for, especially now that she was right. The National Guard coming in is a good thing, but it should have been done in the first two weeks of November.


  16. - Citizen Kane - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:50 pm:

    Well hopefully Hannah and others are able to get clarification in today’s briefing. Most important question now is what changed to bring the National Guard in and how much time until Director Chapa LaVia is dismissed?


  17. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:50 pm:

    With Rauner, Trump, and now Pritzker, we elected private industry CEOs to run the government. Does anyone need more proof that government is not the same as for-profit private business?

    I like JB, and I wish him well, but the learning curve is very steep. He’s done some things well, but others not so much (exec appointments took way too long, answering uncomfortable, but obvious, inquiries from the press and GA members oft goes awry).

    Running a big state is not the same as running big business for many, many, many, many reasons. Throw a major crisis into the mix and you end up with a lot of serious problems, not the least of which is communicating with legislators and the public.

    My preference for Governor (or President) is someone with broad experience in government, more is better. Both legislative and executive branch experience is best case (think Jim Edgar and, so far, Joe Biden).


  18. - Pessimistic - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 1:51 pm:

    We’ve been seeing this thin-skinned and snarky attitude from top administration officials for months. Not only does the governor condone this inappropriate behavior, it’s a culture that starts at the top.

    As always - top shelf work from Hannah.


  19. - Annoyed - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:00 pm:

    Any JB advisors reading these comments? I hope you take notice and brainstorm what is quickly spiraling downhill for a re-election bid. Maybe there should be a IL COVID czar to handle all these pressers, let JB get some time away from the cameras to recharge and refocus.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:04 pm:

    === I wonder what else he’s not telling us. And I’m sure I’m not alone.===

    How is Director Chapa LaVia not being held accountable is my question to this.


  21. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:09 pm:

    === Hannah Meisel asked Gov. Pritzker on Tuesday if the National Guard was being sent to the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. He gave her the brush-off, saying “I don’t know where you get your rumors from.” That was a needless and disrespectful jab even if it wasn’t true. Turns out, Hannah’s sourcing was right. Here’s her scoop…===

    Are we about three steps away from… “Fake News”?

    Good on Hannah.


  22. - JS Mill - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:12 pm:

    =How is Director Chapa LaVia not being held accountable is my question to this.=

    +1 for me. I don’t get it. This has been a failure for Pritzker. Bigger than the progressive tax fail in my opinion.


  23. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:12 pm:

    =how much time until Director Chapa LaVia is dismissed?=

    This is the right question. Does the buck stop at the VA home level or the agency level? Governor’s own after all. Why protect Linda? This was an agency failure with colossal consequences.


  24. - Shane Falco - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:20 pm:

    What is going on at the Quincy home? Hannah’s article mentions the home currently has 32 (10%) of residents and 22 employees with active cases. Are these cases all in the same area of the facility or is it widespread? The deaths are heartbreaking and the attempted coverup is disgusting.


  25. - The Dude - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:29 pm:

    JB….Cmon man what kind of response was that.

    Also, hire some new experts or find some ones you already have but haven’t been listening too.


  26. - Mama - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:32 pm:

    Is it possible Gov. Pritzker was not informed of the National Guard’s medical unit being sent to the LaSalle Veterans’ Home?


  27. - harp5339 - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:36 pm:

    Are the National Guard members Pritzker just thanked at his presser the same ones we’re talking about here? He was pretty vague as to what he was thanking them for beyond “their service.”


  28. - harp5339 - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:51 pm:

    == Is it possible Gov. Pritzker was not informed of the National Guard’s medical unit being sent to the LaSalle Veterans’ Home? ==

    That seems to be the story he’s going with.


  29. - NIU Grad - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:57 pm:

    Good apology…but I’m worried that the Guard was deployed without him knowing about it. This is a crisis, and he he needs to take charge of his office (and Deputy Governors) to get a better idea of how to hold people accountable who dropped the ball on this and cost lives.


  30. - essentially working - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 2:58 pm:

    “Is it possible…”, I assumed this was the case. I am not sure whether his dismissiveness of a reporter, a female reporter no less, would be worse if he were lying or just misinformed. One might say Pritzker is perpetuating the patriarchy. I expect more from JB…


  31. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 3:00 pm:

    In the next lifetime, we’ll send all these vets to a Rauner nursing home. That way they would’ve been up the creek before COVID.


  32. - Trubisky’s clipboard - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 3:04 pm:

    JB’s losses are starting to overtake JB’s wins. He is struggling.


  33. - Citizen Kane - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 3:08 pm:

    That was a nice apology, but the Governor is being tricky with his Quincy Veterans Home numbers. They are reporting “active cases” not how many during the outbreak. In fact, since October 30th, there have been 122 cases between staff and residents at Quincy. That is different than what he reported today and that is not transparent.


  34. - Bruce( no not him) - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 3:38 pm:

    To the update, The Gov didn’t know someone within his administration was going to call upon the Guard? Maybe a press release to correct the mistake immediately would have been appropriate.


  35. - Southern Belle - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 3:38 pm:

    JB’s staff was notified of the PUA breach at IDES days before he acknowledged knowing about it. Did his staff keep that from him? He seems to have an impenetrable bubble around him. Legislators on both sides of the aisle complain no one can get through to the Governor. People elect a Governor not their staff. They want a leader not a figurehead.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 4:26 pm:

    === That’s a good thing. I want my administration to be nimble and responsive, but I want to apologize for being dismissive when I was asked about it.===

    Good on the Governor


  37. - Candy Dogood - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 4:36 pm:

    ===Good on the Governor ===

    It’s nice when the head of an executive branch is able to apologize candidly.


  38. - Give Us Barabbas - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 4:52 pm:

    I will keep an eye out for a subtle re-shifting of state personnel moving to federal jobs after Biden takes office, as some new positions might then open up elsewhere. That could be the time various Directors, and I’m not suggesting specific names, of course, take a new assignment opportunity with Biden’s people, or people working -with- Biden’s people… Or is that too subtle?


  39. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 5:08 pm:

    A smart fellow three decades ago taught me that “The easiest story to tell someone is one that they already know.” Like that scene at the end of Elf, belt out a few lines of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and its not long before everyone is singing along.

    Our ability to rely on archetypes and story templates helps us to make sense of massive amounts of data, and it generally works well when we have a lot of data, but when it fails us it fails miserably.

    I, like many people, totally fell for the initial story line in the Jussie Smollett case.

    Too many people fell for President Trump’s storyline that the coronavirus is just like the flu.

    It’s not surprising folks are comparing the current veterans’ home outbreak to the Quincy outbreak.

    In Quincy, IDVA sat on their hands and did nothing to mitigate the spread of the disease for an entire month.

    Jeffries left IDVA in April, 2018, nearly three years after the outbreak began, and following an exhaustive investigation that uncovered serious wrongdoing and a cover-up that she took part in.

    There is nothing noble, righteous or just about throwing people under the bus.


  40. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 5:09 pm:

    === There is nothing noble, righteous or just about throwing people under the bus.===

    Directors aren’t accountable?


  41. - The Dude - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 6:29 pm:

    So the update worries me a lot too.

    This means that nobody laid the plan out well to the govenor before he spoke about it.

    That’s scary. I understand there’s a lot of moving parts but this veterans home issue should be top priority.


  42. - ChiSox - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 7:33 pm:

    How can the National Guard be called up without Governor approval? Sure someone from team BPIA (Best Paid in America) has an answer.


  43. - Southern Dude - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 7:45 pm:

    —-Directors aren’t accountable—-
    Not in this Administration apparently. He has been terrible with the agencies. He has done a nice job of keeping AFSCME quiet though. We are half way through his term, this is who he is. Lucky for JB that Rauner set the bar so low.


  44. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 8:21 pm:

    === Directors aren’t accountable? ===

    Fauci is a Director, too. That doesn’t mean he is to blame.

    Shouldn’t we postpone the hanging atleast until after the trial?


  45. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 8:28 pm:

    === Fauci is a Director, too. That doesn’t mean he is to blame.

    Shouldn’t we postpone the hanging atleast until after the trial?===

    Are you comparing a hero like Fauci who’s trying to save lives to Chapa LaVia who isn’t even “half” of the hero Fauci is in saving lives.

    Chapa LaVia couldn’t even confirm she talked to the governor

    Both Chapa LaVia and Candidate Pritzker were not satisfied when Jefferies left… and with 33 deaths and counting…

    … you compare Chapa LaVia… to… Fauci?

    Whew.


  46. - striketoo - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 10:31 pm:

    How about we get the state out of the business of housing a tiny percentage of our older veterans and transfer them to the care of professionals.


  47. - Rutro - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 11:06 pm:

    did the bruce ever get out of that nursing home business?
    Also, Hannah, good for you. JB you should fire anyone on your executive staff that would let you think that’s an acceptable response to a reporter with a legitimate question, you lose credibility, your $ is worthless. I just hope your answer didn’t actually affect the decision or it’s implementation.


  48. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 10, 20 @ 11:34 pm:

    ===you should fire anyone on your executive staff that would let you think===

    This ain’t a staff issue.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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