CHICAGO — About 2,500 people working in health care have had confirmed cases of coronavirus, and at least eight have died, officials said Wednesday.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, shared the numbers during a Wednesday press conference. She said at least 2,500 people who work in some aspect of health care have been reported as having coronavirus and eight have died.
“That could be anyone that works in a health care establishment,” Ezike said. “It could be a nurse, a nurse practitioner, a respiratory therapist. It could be the front desk staff at a clinic. It could be a longterm care facility worker.”
Ezike said the data could be incomplete because it is inputted by others and not by the state, though the state is specifically asking for information about health care workers when facilities report cases of coronavirus.
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The state has repeatedly said “frontline” workers like people in health care are a priority for getting personal protective equipment and being tested for coronavirus.
But some workers have criticized those efforts.
In late March, the Illinois Nurses Association demanded more protections for nurses after a dozen tested positive at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago.
The association contended nurses had to work in the COVID Care Unit and weren’t given personal protective equipment, though the hospital contended at the time there was a shortage of such equipment and its protocols met or exceeded recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.
“These nurses served patients on the frontline of the fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic and risked their lives to make sure patients received proper care,” Alice Johnson, the union’s executive director, said in a statement at the time. “We hoped their hospital and their government would protect them, but they failed.”
Officials have also emphasized no one is immune from contracting coronavirus.
“There’s no one that’s immune from this disease, so we’re seeing it in every group. Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent it in any specific demographic, in any class of citizen here in Illinois,” Ezike said at another point when asked about cases in veterans facilities. “We’re seeing it in veterans, we’re seeing it in homeless people, we’re seeing it in nursing homes. … There’s no setting, there’s no type of individuals, there’s no part of the state that’s been able to have some kind of immunity.”
Pritzker has previously said people who do not think they are getting adequate amounts of personal protective equipment from their workplace can contact their company and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
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