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House GOP demands hearings to investigate LaSalle Veterans’ Home COVID-19 outbreak

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- House Republicans want hearings as soon as possible to address the COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans' Home that killed 36 residents last fall.

This comes only days after an Inspector General's report documented the issues that led to those deaths. Republicans argue lawmakers should've already been holding hearings regarding the status of the outbreak at the facility.

Rep. Randy Frese said the Illinois Department of Human Services called the response to the COVID-19 outbreak inefficient and chaotic. The Quincy Republican emphasized that the report left him angry and frustrated. Frese noted staff had the opportunity to prevent the outbreak.

"Policies were inconsistent between the homes," Frese said. "Several policies were incomplete or outdated, and very importantly, while various infection control policies existed, it is not clear how they were integrated into an infection control management program."

With the convenience of meeting virtually, Frese explained there's no excuse to schedule a hearing.

"This report came out last Friday. We should've, 48-hours, we should have had a meeting Monday, could have had it yesterday, we could've had it today, there's a number of, amount of time this whole week when we could schedule an important hearing like that," said Frese. "We should be having it."

Frese also called for Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch and Gov. JB Pritzker to come together and discuss solutions for the future. Republicans say no matter what side of the aisle you're on, this is not a partisan issue.

"This should be our priority"

Republicans continued to demand the Pritzker administration take responsibility for the deaths of the LaSalle veterans.

Rep. David Welter (R-Morris) emphasized that hearings should've started the second the governor found out about the situation in LaSalle last December. He said Pritzker owes it to Illinois' veterans to apologize and ask the necessary questions to prevent this from happening again.

Welter explained he read the report from the Inspector General's Office the second it came out Friday morning.

"Every other detail I was reading was more egregious, more upsetting, more frustrating," said Welter. "At that point, you would think that leadership who actually controls when committees can be held and when they're scheduled would have Friday, put out statements and decided, we come back to Springfield next week, this should be our priority."

Meanwhile, the chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee said she's planning on holding hearings about this issue. Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora) requested a hearing for next week to discuss the matter.

In fact, House Democratic staff already started working on finding the best date and time for the initial hearing.

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Ali Rasper

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