State Worked to Shape Coverage of Legionnaires’ Outbreak
Email messages show state officials worked to put a positive spin on news coverage as a deadly Legionnaires disease outbreak unfolded at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy.
Chicago's WBEZ obtained emails between state and local health officials and the agency that oversees the home, despite efforts by Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration to keep the messages secret.
Legionnaires' has contributed to 13 deaths at the veterans' home since 2015. Dozens more have been sickened.
The emails include exchanges between officials and press aides prior to issuing the first news release about the outbreak. An epidemiologist at a Quincy hospital described a draft as "smoke to cover peoples butts."
Rauner has come under attack for his handling of the crisis. A spokeswoman told WBEZ the safety of veterans and staff "is and always has been a priority."