Proposed bills would assist with Quincy Legionnaires’ crisis

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois senators are proposing three new bills to prevent future Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy, which has had 13 deaths since 2015.

State Sens. Tom Cullerton, Sam McCann, Michael Hastings and Bill Haine slammed Gov. Bruce Rauner and his administration’s handling of the outbreaks at a press briefing Tuesday while presenting the bills, The State Journal-Register reported.

The bills would put into place new warning systems for the disease, improve infrastructure and create measures to screen for the Legionella bacteria to prevent further outbreaks.

Cullerton said he’s unhappy the legislature had to enact measures.

“I visited the home in December of last year and asked for a plan and that we would be willing to help,” Cullerton said. “And yet now we are sitting in the middle of March.

McCann added that Rauner, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Erica Jeffries and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah failed to fix the Quincy’s Legionnaires problems.

“I certainly don’t believe that this administration has accepted full responsibility for what’s going on,” said McCann. “They continually seem to pat themselves on the back and give themselves accolades for a plan that isn’t working.”

Rauner spokeswoman Rachel Bold said Wednesday that the veterans’ safety is a priority and the administration continues to work with experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who were called in 2015.

The presence of legionella bacteria in the home’s potable water system has been “substantially reduced,” Bold said.

“To say that this administration failed to act to the legionnaire’s outbreak at the Quincy Veterans Home is unfounded,” Bold said. “We will release next steps soon and look forward to working with the bipartisan group of lawmakers who have taken a keen interest in the matter.”