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The Latest: Plumbing replacement still an option at Quincy

March 5, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Latest on a legislative hearing on the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy veterans’ home (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s spokeswoman says replacing the plumbing at the Quincy veterans’ home beset by Legionnaires’ disease is still an option even though officials say they plan to construct a new facility.

Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries told lawmakers Monday that the administration plans to raze residence halls where there have been Legionnaires’ cases since 2015. She estimated a three- to five-year timetable but not a cost.

Legionnaires’ is a pneumonia-like malady caused by bacteria in water vapor that’s inhaled. Thirteen Quincy residents have died. Four new cases were confirmed in February despite millions of dollars of remedial measures.

Rauner said in January he’d replace the plumbing. Jeffries told a joint hearing House-Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees in Chicago Monday that would not happen with new construction now the goal.

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10:55 a.m.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration now says it plans to rebuild dormitories at the Quincy veterans’ home where Legionnaires’ disease continues to be a problem.

That’s according to Erica Jeffries. She is director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Republican Rauner said in January after a weeklong stay that antiquated plumbing would be replaced.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by bacteria in water vapor that’s inhaled. Thirteen Quincy residents have died from the pneumonia-like malady since 2015.

Jeffries told the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees that the plan now is to demolish and replace problematic residence halls on the Quincy campus during the next three to five years. And she said plumbing replacement would not be a good use of money and cause too much disruption in the meantime.

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5:05 a.m.

Officials in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration will again face lawmakers’ inquiries over the response to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy veterans’ home.

The Illinois House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees will question officials from the Illinois Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Public Health and the Capital Development Board Monday in Chicago.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by water-borne bacteria. It has contributed to the deaths of 13 Quincy residents and sickened dozens more since 2015. Four more cases were confirmed in February.

Lawmakers will likely grill cabinet members over why the administration hasn’t set forth a response plan.

Rauner announced in January that he would replace plumbing on the campus. He has since named task forces to study options and on Friday tabbed an adviser to coordinate the effort.

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