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Asked if he bears responsibility for LaSalle deaths, Pritzker says he does, but also places blame elsewhere

Friday, Dec 11, 2020

* Gov. Pritzker was asked today if he bears any responsibility for the deaths at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home

Look, I bear the responsibility of leadership of the state, and that means that everything that happens across state government to some degree or another lands on my shoulders.

The veterans’ homes are extraordinarily important. The people who live there are very important to all of us. We want to keep them healthy and safe. This virus has been so virulent, and particularly in areas where there is a very high prevalence of the disease, and where people who work at the homes live in the community. And in the communities sometimes there is not only a high prevalence of the disease but also people not wearing masks and following any of the mitigations.

These things can happen. And I think, most importantly, the question is, at the time that people become aware on site of what’s happening, what are their reactions, how do they care for people there and make sure that they’re safe? And then what can we learn from that, very importantly, to carry on, you know elsewhere to make sure that we’re keeping all of our veterans safe?

While “These things can happen” is accurate, I gotta figure that’s gonna come back on him.

* The governor was also asked about his criticisms of the Rauner administration’s handling of the Quincy Veterans’ Home deaths and was asked if his administration could’ve saved lives by responding more quickly…

Well first of all, we acted much more intensely and much more intently than the Rauner administration ever did. They tried to cover it up. That is what is so disturbing about what happened to Quincy, of those many those several years ago. We’re doing everything we can to make it transparent. We’ve done inspections, we’ve uncovered things that would need to be changed and we’ve made those changes.

And as I said in answer to Rick’s question, it is our responsibility to take care of these veterans, there’s no doubt about it. And to act as quickly as we can when we know this information.

Remember that families weren’t notified at Quincy several years ago. Families were notified within 24 hours of the testing that took place in 24 hours of the facility knowing that it had a problem.

Is there more that could be could have been done? I don’t doubt that there is more that could have been done. It is easy in retrospect to say that about really almost any situation. But I will also say that our intent here from the get-go has been to take care of these veterans and make sure, not only do we learn what mistakes may have been made, but to rectify them.

Last thing I’ll say is that the Legionnaires Disease is extraordinarily preventable. It is in the water supply, we know where it comes from. We know that you can either deal with it within the water supply, or make sure that on the other end that we’re not causing mist and other things in hot showers or in the delivery of hot water to people that they inhale it. You can prevent all that is known. This is a novel coronavirus today. This is not Legionnaires. And that novel coronavirus means that no matter what we do, and it’s a little bit the answer I gave to Eric as well, no matter what we do, even if we put all the mitigations in the world and sometimes because of the prevalence of the disease because we don’t exactly know everything about it, it’s not preventable for everybody. And so again, I want to make sure that we do everything we can, and learn from the experience and not hide anything, and be as transparent as possible so that we can get better.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

22 Comments
  1. - Anon E Moose - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:03 pm:

    Not the same situation at all.


  2. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:05 pm:

    Rich you are so right. These things happen although not meant maliciously and is a common statement just sounds so so tone deaf in this situation


  3. - JB13 - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:07 pm:

    “These things can happen…”

    “It is what it is…”


  4. - Anon y mouse - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:10 pm:

    This will come back to bite him.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:12 pm:

    If Director Chapa LaVia isn’t held accountable for what happened…

    … what would constitute a firing for the Administration?

    Sullivan was dismissed for… an email.

    === While “These things can happen” is accurate, I gotta figure that’s gonna come back on him.===

    Every day Chapa LaVia is still director is a day that accountability seems to be something that will come back and haunt.

    We can go back on the Chapa LaVia quotes I guess, but I’ll leave that “half” for when it does come back.

    === Is there more that could be could have been done? I don’t doubt that there is more that could have been done. It is easy in retrospect to say that about really almost any situation. But I will also say that our intent here from the get-go has been to take care of these veterans and make sure, not only do we learn what mistakes may have been made, but to rectify them.===

    In April, Director Chapa LaVia said they were prepared.

    There’s a quote for that too.

    I appreciate all the governor has done, doing, and continues to do, I sincerely do.

    This is one where things might be coming back later.


  6. - Mr. Hand - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:23 pm:

    I didn’t hear a lot of bearing of the responsibility.

    I am not sure why he took the bait and tried to do a comparison of Quincy and La Salle.

    Maybe something like this…

    “I am not focusing on what has happened in past administrations, but focused on fixing the issues this administration had in La Salle. We are in difficult times, but that is not an excuse for what happened. We need to do better.”


  7. - Southern Belle - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:24 pm:

    Absurd! To say they have done all that could be done is just absurd. Over a week went by before IDPH even went to the facility. Sen. Rezin was raising alarms and no one in the administration was listening. Total disrespect from the Gov.’s people towards legislators of both Parties. Many legislators are closely tied to their districts. LISTEN to the Governor Pritzker.


  8. - Evanstonian - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:25 pm:

    “These things happen” but, oddly, never at the nursing homes of the incredibly wealthy. Weird.


  9. - Annoyed - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:30 pm:

    As much as JB bears blame, I read that a bunch of workers went to a Halloween party together. If the spread can be traced back to that group then that’s were the hell and fury should be aimed at.


  10. - Shytown - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:35 pm:

    Not the same situation at all.


  11. - Dutch - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:35 pm:

    The whole thing is tragic. It just seems like the Governor is too trusting of the senior leaders at the IDVA.


  12. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:36 pm:

    === As much as JB bears blame…===

    We can easily articulate that Legionnaires Disease and a global pandemic are different, the governor has held Rauner responsible for what happened in Quincy, and the President for things during this pandemic.

    How is it one person is being held fully accountable, another on leave.

    The Director of IDES was removed, Sullivan was removed… the Director of IDVA is still around.

    I don’t envy the governor or his crew, or anyone in leadership here, but this withholding of more accountability is noticeable.


  13. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:38 pm:

    A big part of what happened at the home (and at a lot of nursing homes) with COVID is the interactions between the community, the staff, and the residents. It is difficult to imagine how this could have been contained without requiring the staff to confine themselves at the facility with the residents. This is especially true with so many people in the community not taking appropriate care.

    I’m not dismissing the issues with items such as hand sanitizer, but a highly infectious respiratory disease is difficult to contain under the best circumstances. Controlling exhalations and air flow within an older building is very difficult. Controlling what employees do when they leave the facility is next to impossible. Even the most responsible person needs to go to the store to buy food where they will interact with people not wearing masks properly, and they will interact with their immediate families at home. Contact tracing shows that it only takes one person going to a bar or restaurant to begin a chain of infection.

    The comparison to the Legionnaire’s outbreak is very useful because it highlights what the home’s operator can control vs what they cannot control.


  14. - EssentialWorkingMom - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:40 pm:

    == Sen. Rezin was raising alarms…==
    Sen Rezin was also among those posting on twitter about how it wasn’t fair to the restaurants to close indoor dining in efforts to reduce community spread of the virus, so that maybe, hypotehetically, the staff of said nursing homes wouldn’t be exposed to the virus outside of work and then bring it inside to the residents of the home. Sen Rezin is among those who do an elaborate rain dance, then when the clouds form, look at the sky and say “Oh $#!t, it’s raining!” and feign ignorance.


  15. - Sidepocket - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:41 pm:

    “These things can happen…”

    “It is what it is…”

    These statements may seem similar but are not at all when taken in context by the men making them. It is foolish to strike any resemblence between Pritzker and Trump from words plucked from the air, which is why they were written side by side.(Jb13)
    Pritzker has taken aggressive measures to mitigate the
    community spread of of this virus. He has followed CDC guidelines plus some. He has expressed sincere compassion and works hard to alleviate the strain on healthcare workers. He has tried to lead the horse to water to protect citizens but cannot force people to submit by physically restraining them and forcing compliance.

    On the other hand, Trump has done more than abdicate responsibility, he has gone further to increase community spread of the virus in many ways.
    Zero comparison and I take exception to the cheap shots at parsing words to the point of ignoring reality.

    Do we really not have enough real issues to deal with from our government than to spend time criticizing the tone or phrasing of words out of context? Can we discuss how to improve the procedures at VA homes that the government can assist with or how to better encourage and educate all citizens to be better neighbors during a pandemic?
    Pritzker has done nothing wrong by speaking extemporaneously and frankly without having to pour over every word so as not to sound callous. Tough times require more focus on what matters, not petty wordplay.


  16. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:42 pm:

    =I don’t envy the governor or his crew, or anyone in leadership here, but this withholding of more accountability is noticeable.=

    Totally agree. It’s so hard to understand because it’s pretty clear that at some point it was a lack of leadership and accountability. It’s gonna take a FOIA for all the emails between those parties to (hopefully) discover who knew what when..


  17. - essentially working - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:43 pm:

    “At this point, what difference does it make”, these things happen


  18. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    === Do we really not have enough real issues to deal with from our government than to spend time criticizing the tone or phrasing of words out of context?===

    Campaign ads don’t do nuance.


  19. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 4:15 pm:

    ==It’s so hard to understand because it’s pretty clear that at some point it was a lack of leadership and accountability.==

    It might alleviate political pressure to fire a director or some folks higher up, but we still have serious issues with community spread and a lack of PPE and testing. The way to keep the residents safe is a rapid test for every staff member before they begin their shift and enough PPE to swap out between every room, and that is not currently possible. In addition, we would need everyone in the community to take the virus seriously, (wear masks in public, not dine in at restaurants, go to bars, go to church indoors F2F, etc.) so that the staff is not unnecessarily exposed; also not happening.

    Keeping the residents in every nursing home safe during a this type of pandemic is a community responsibility, and we have failed. The Governor didn’t say it, but that is the truth of the matter.


  20. - Captain Obvious - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 4:31 pm:

    Well we’re sorry veterans died and sure I’m maybe partly responsible but hey, stuff happens. I don’t think Jay Bob is clear on the fact that a big part of his job is to see to it that stuff doesn’t happen. Maybe hire people who know how to do that rather than political toadies.


  21. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 4:35 pm:

    ==I don’t think Jay Bob is clear on the fact that a big part of his job is to see to it that stuff doesn’t happen.==

    Maybe put out some executive orders that mandate masks, limit the number of folks in stores, and close businesses where the virus is most likely to spread? You mean like that?


  22. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Dec 11, 20 @ 4:37 pm:

    I would suggest using the Defense Production Act to get quick tests and PPE to the folks who need it, but that’s above his authority.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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