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Rauner Spent a Week in Quincy – But Nothing Has Changed

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After Veterans Home Stay, Rauner Still Refuses to Show Accountability for Administration’s Response to Tragedy

Governor Bruce Rauner wrapped up his week-long stay at the Quincy Veterans’ Home with a press conference that was light on details and non-existent on introspection. Rauner’s stay was provoked by a WBEZ investigation into his administration’s response to the 2015 Legionnaires’ outbreak. Twelve died that year, and subsequent outbreaks killed one more later. But Rauner was not interested in looking back today. 

“Bruce Rauner went to Quincy to clean up his administration’s mess, but now he’s acting like they did nothing wrong,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Rauner refused to address lingering questions about his administration’s response to the 2015 Legionnaires’ outbreak or show his administration learned from past mistakes. In the week that he has stayed at Quincy, Rauner has failed to show any accountability or take responsibility for the past.”

When asked if he had called the families of those who died in 2015, Rauner deflected. WBEZ had previously reported some families claimed they never received word from Rauner’s Administration.

Question: “Did you reach out to the families of those who died in the 2015 outbreak while you were here?

Rauner: “I’ve talked to many families while I’m here and visited with, many have come here, and I’ve talked with and met with many families while I was here.”

Then, Rauner was asked about the administration’s delay in telling the public and families about the outbreak. Rauner refused to admit any mistake.

Question: “Governor, there was some criticism, yesterday coming out of the hearings, about the late notice, how long it took to notify the public and notify the families [in 2015]. Is there a commitment now from your administration if there are any cases that crop up, or deaths that crop up, to make notification in a much more timely fashion?

Rauner: “Yes, the answer is yes. We want to notify exactly, quickly and appropriately. But I’ll say this – our team did exactly what they should have done, exactly when they should have done it. The first issue is to notify the residents and the staff. Because this facility is the first priority. And that’s what we did. And that’s what our team did in 2015, and its done since then. Then, obviously you want to communicate with the general public and we did that, but we don’t want to go talk to the general public without knowing the facts and the circumstances, and they got that and then they released it.”

The administration’s delay in telling the public has been the topic of much debate. WBEZ quoted an infectious disease expert who called the delay “mind-boggling.” And contrary to what he said today, the Chicago Tribune reported that Rauner’s Administration testified they had only told some of the patients about an elevated risk of illness.

Rauner’s team did not learn from their mistakes today because, according to them, they did not make any.