27 COVID-19 deaths at Illinois veterans home prompts probe; US jobless claims keep climbing

LASALLE, Ill. (AP) — State officials have launched investigations into a coronavirus outbreak at a veterans nursing home in Illinois that has infected nearly 200 residents and staff members, and killed 27 veterans.

News outlets reported Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the state’s Department of Veteran’s Affairs are attempting to determine what caused the outbreak at the state-run LaSalle Veterans’ Home. The department on Tuesday requested an independent probe into the facility, which was the focus of a state Senate committee virtual hearing on the outbreak.

The current outbreak was identified in late October when a staff member and a resident tested positive for the virus, the Chicago Tribune reported. The home was not largely impacted by the pandemic until then. In fact, two-thirds of residents and employees tested positive since the beginning of this month, according to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Read more:

Here’s an update on all developments. Scroll or swipe further for in-depth coverage.

  • The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week for a second straight week to 778,000, evidence that the U.S. economy and job market remain under strain as coronavirus cases surge and colder weather heighten the risks.
  • The second of three estimates on U.S. growth for the July-September quarter was unchanged at a record pace of 33.1%. But a resurgence in the coronavirus is expected to slow growth sharply in the current quarter with some economists even raising the specter of a double-dip recession.
  • A current surge of COVID-19 cases throughout Minnesota is affecting staffing levels at many nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
  • With California desperately battling an out-of-control coronavirus surge, the state’s health secretary is urging families to avoid gathering for Thanksgiving and Los Angeles County appeared on the brink of issuing a stay-home order to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
  • The U.N. health agency said in its latest epidemiological update Wednesday that even though there was a “downward trend” in the number of cases in Europe, the region still has the biggest proportion of new cases and deaths globally.
  • A top European Union official said Wednesday that the first citizens in the 27 nation bloc could be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Christmas.
  • With major COVID-19 vaccines showing high levels of protection, British officials are cautiously — and they stress cautiously — optimistic that life may start returning to normal by early April.
  • Resistance to masks appears to be weakening in Kansas as the coronavirus surges, straining the capacity of the state’s hospitals.
  • The sports minister for Victoria state says the 2021 Australian Open in Melbourne will “most likely” be delayed by a week or two from its scheduled start of Jan. 18.

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