The COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans home continues to claim lives, with 36 residents lost to the disease so far. As the Illinois Senate is set to convene over the weekend, State Senators Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) and Sue Rezin (R-Morris) are asking for an additional Veterans Affairs hearing to be held on the ongoing crisis.
"The Senate is going to be in Springfield for the lame-duck session to deal with issues of great importance, and I can think of little that is more important than saving lives and getting to the bottom of this tragedy," Schimpf said. "We are still waiting to hear from an IDPH official who was actually making decisions when this tragedy began, so we can find out why it took so long to get a team on site to manage this crisis."
"It has been over two months since the deadly outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, and we have had only two legislative hearings on the subject," said Sen. Rezin. "The people of Illinois deserve to know how this virus was able to run rampant through the home. The Illinois Department of Public Health must tell us why it took them 12 days to conduct a site visit. There is no good reason for us not to have a hearing during lame-duck session and certainly no acceptable excuse for IDPH to refuse to testify."
Earlier this week, Schimpf and Rezin sent a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator Tom Cullerton, to formally request that he schedule a hearing during the coming lame-duck session.
In the letter, the two Senators stated that the purpose of this meeting would be to hear testimony from someone at the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) who has actual decision-making authority and was in that role when the bulk of the tragic outbreak occurred. They added that they are still trying to determine why it took 13 days to get a team from IDPH to the home after the outbreak was identified. Additionally, they noted that they don’t believe there should be scheduling issues with the Senate, since lawmakers will already be at the Capitol for session, and that there shouldn’t be scheduling issues for IDPH officials either, since officials from the agency spent hours at the December meeting of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).