Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s handling of a Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak at a veteran’s home has become a campaign issue. But a national prevention group says the topic should not be politicized.
The group known as the Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires' Disease — based in D.C — aims to normalize the conversation around Legionella bacteria across the country. Brad Considine, director of Strategic Initiatives for the alliance, said the next governor should keep a few things in mind: “Recognize that it’s a complex issue and to put a mix of people around it and not treat it as a political football. Because whenever it becomes a political football, people continue to get hurt underneath it."
He said Illinois has good proposals on the table, which could set an example for other states. "I think if we continue on that path, if we don’t let the politics get in too heavy, Illinois has a great chance of not only addressing the current challenges that we have, but perhaps establishing a model for the rest of the country," he said.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has been working with the Illinois Pollution Control Board to modernize water safety regulations — which haven’t been updated since the 1980s. The changes could be in place as early as next year.
Rauner’s administration has been criticized for delays in notifying the families of residents at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy. The governor’s office has said it followed proper guidelines. Fourteen people have died from the disease there since 2015.