NBC 5 Chicago Reports Illinois Health Officials Keeping Secret List of Large Gathering-Related Coronavirus COVID-19 Cases

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While Illinois officials repeatedly beg people to steer clear of large gatherings, they’ve privately been keeping track of just those kinds of cases, which have caused tens of thousands of coronavirus infections throughout the pandemic, throughout the state. NBC 5 Investigates’ Phil Rogers reports.

An NBC 5 Chicago report from Phil Rogers and Katy Smyser is reporting that they have discovered thousands of little-known COVID-19 outbreaks in Illinois related to restaurants, bars, retail stores, preschools, workplaces, gyms, dance studios, clubs, churches, proms, parties, graduation parties, and weddings.

NBC 5 Chicago claims state authorities concealed these outbreaks from the public, despite the fact that these are the very cases that could directly support officials’ continued pleas for people to avoid large groups of people. The public’s knowledge of these kinds of cases causing tens of thousands of coronavirus infections in Illinois may have provided the motivation for individuals to avoid large gatherings, as recommended by local, state and federal health officials.

10 Worst Outbreaks in Illinois
Cook County Jail, Chicago
Stateville Correctional Center, Will County
Naval Station Great Lakes, Lake County
East Moline Correctional Center, Rock Island County
Ludeman Developmental Center, Cook County
Robinson Correctional facility, Crawford County
City View Multi Care Center, Cook County
Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago
Jacksonville Correctional Center, Morgan County
Avantara Long Grove LTC, Lake County (Rehabilitative Care)

SOURCE: Documenting COVID-19 project/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

NBC 5 Investigates and Telemundo Chicago Investiga claims the confidential list — maintained by the Illinois Department of Public Health — was obtained by the “Documenting Covid-19 project” at Columbia University’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation, working with the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. The group received the list, apparently by mistake, in response to a public records request to a county health department, according to NBC 5 Chicago.

“The email we received says ‘confidential – do not share,’” said Sky Chadde, the Midwest Center’s Gannett Agricultural Data Fellow. “[It was] pretty much of an accident in terms of getting these records.” The list includes a outbreak data entry for each case, including an Outbreak ID, Title and/or Address, Case Status (e.g., confirmed), Case Count, and Deaths.

According to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, “In refusing to release the locations of outbreaks, the Illinois Department of Public Health said that it is bound by state and federal laws that are designed to protect the identity of those infected.”

NBC 5 Chicago did not initially reveal how their reporters became aware of the leaked information that made its way to the “Documenting Covid-19 project,” but the information was posted publicly in an article on the The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting on October 7, 2020.

Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting article stated nearly 2,600 separate outbreaks have been tracked across Illinois since March 2020, including a worsening undisclosed outbreak at Naval Station Great Lakes where there were 409 confirmed cases.

An outbreak at The Reserve at Arlington Heights Adult Living Facility confirmed an outbreak affecting 11 people on September 30, 2020 (“probable”). An undisclosed outbreak at The Moorings of Arlington Heights Adult Living Facility confirmed an outbreak affecting 2 people on September 30, 2020 (“probable”). But data at these facilities has been published on a nursing home list available from the Illinois Department of Public Health. However, data about many other facilities, business, and events were not published by the State of Illinois. They were kept secret.

Additional examples of undisclosed data included …

Cook County Department of Corrections Chicago reported 1074 confirmed cases.

Manor Care in Libertyville reported 39 confirmed cases.*

Manor Care in Elk Grove Village reported 111 confirmed cases.*

Elevate Care Chicago North reported 174 confirmed cases.*

Elevate Care Waukegan reported 63 confirmed cases.*

An Abbvie, Inc. location in North Chicago reported 14 confirmed cases.

Lutheran Home Senior Living in Arlington Heights reported 58 confirmed cases. Cases were reported on the official website at the Lutheran Home.*

Niles Nursing and Rehab reported 264 confirmed cases.*

Warren Barr North Shore in Highland Park reported 73 cases.*

The 18th Circuit Court Clerk Office in DuPage report 6 confirmed cases.

The Will County Courthouse reported 2 confirmed cases.

Jewel-Osco in Melrose Park reported 20 confirmed cases.

Jewel-Osco in Highland Park reported 8 confirmed cases.

Mariano’s in Glenview reported 3 confirmed cases.

Mariano’s in Harwood Heights reported 2 confirmed cases.

Aldi Distributing in Kane County reported 5 confirmed cases.

Whole Foods in Vernon Hills reported 3 confirmed cases.

Costco in Kane County reported 6 confirmed cases.

Saluki Bar N Grill in Carbondale reported 28 confirmed cases.

United Pentecostal Church in Bartlett reported 20 confirmed cases.

A Stampede Meat location in Cook County reported 38 confirmed cases.


Case Stories

Despite mask mandates and social distancing measures being widely encouraged throughout the summer, dozens of outbreaks in July were directly tied to lax enforcement or gatherings that flouted public health guidelines.

Twelve cases were tied to a Quincy-based dance academy after it had a recital in neighboring Missouri “where it would be legal” and “mask enforcement did not happen.”

A 120-person golf event at the Elks Golf Club, with an open bar and numerous spectators, resulted in 14 cases. One of the players was symptomatic. The club did not return a message left on its office phone.

Ed Kabrick Beef, a Plainville butcher shop, had two cases because “masks were not being worn” and that the “first case was symptomatic and infectious while working next to the second case.” The person who picked up the phone at Ed Kabrick said they were too busy to comment.

–INVESTIGATE MIDWEST | Each outbreak data entry included an Outbreak ID, Title and/or Address, Case Status (e.g., confirmed), Case Count, and Deaths

Note that various tests for COVID-19 illness can result in false positive results as well as false negative results.

The article referenced below includes a searchable list of cases. Viewers can search by county, company name, and city or village.


INVESTIGATE MIDWEST | Each outbreak data entry included an Outbreak ID, Title and/or Address, Case Status (e.g., confirmed), Case Count, and Deaths

NBC 5 CHICAGO | Illinois Keeps a Secret List of Thousands of Coronavirus Outbreaks. Now NBC 5 Has It

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