CHICAGO — With workers at nearly 70 nursing homes across the state planning to go on strike because of unsafe working conditions, several Illinois Senate Democrats wrote a letter to the Illinois Department of Public Health and many local health departments Tuesday requesting to know the amount of Personal Protective Equipment that has been distributed to those nursing homes and the process by which it was distributed.
“The hardworking people who put their own health on the line to care for our state’s most vulnerable population should not have to do so without proper protection,” said State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago). “Workers shouldn’t be left wondering when and if they’ll get more supplies, and management shouldn’t have to find and pay for most PPE that is needed out of its own pockets.” 
The request comes from members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus who have at least one nursing home in the district they represent where management received strike notices last week. Employees of 64 nursing homes across the state sent strike notices to management, saying facilities do not have enough PPE, safety protocols, and adequate hazard pay. 
In an effort to stand up for those workers in their districts, the group sent a letter to IDPH and local health departments to ask how facilities are chosen to receive PPE and how much PPE these nursing homes have received since the start of the outbreak.
"When our nursing home staffs aren't afforded adequate PPE, that puts worker and resident lives in danger," said State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview). "PPE is scarce right now, but our frontline workers need these supplies in order to continue caring for those who need it the most.”
Late last month, WBEZ — a Chicago-based public radio station — reported 625 Illinois nursing home patients and staff have died from COVID-19. Nursing home deaths make up more than a third of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. 
“We need to do everything possible to provide a safe environment for our nursing home workers, who day in and day out protect our most vulnerable loved ones,” said State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Schaumburg).