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State Data Show One Chicago Nursing Home Has Fewer Than 1 Percent Of Staff Vaccinated Against COVID-19

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Some local nursing homes have an alarmingly low level of workers who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

As CBS 2's Chris Tye reported Tuesday, the clock is ticking for health care workers to get vaccinated in Illinois by next month.

While the majority of facilities have the majority of staffers vaccinated, we found one facility where more than 99 percent still remain unvaccinated.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker was in Cicero on Tuesday with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. We wanted to talk to Pritzker about nursing homes.

Tye: "Your vaccination requirements for those in the health care sector kind of really kicked into high gear this weekend."

Pritzker: "Yes."

That gear shift comes from an executive order which this weekend starts the clock on health care workers - calling on them to be vaccinated by early next month.

But the order has one big caveat: "Health care workers who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 must be tested for COVID-19 weekly, at a minimum."

The Illinois Department of Public Health has a map showing the COVID-19 vaccination rates at long-term care facilities across the state. More than a few have fewer than 50 percent of staff vaccinated, or even fewer than 25 percent.

At Waterfront Terrace nursing and rehabilitation center at 7750 S. South Shore Dr. in South Shore, the state's website shows only 0.89 percent of staffers are vaccinated.

"There are very, very few nursing homes that have as low a vax rate as you just cited, and it's very unfortunate that there are so many people in any given location unwilling to go get vaccinated," Pritzker said.

We reached out multiple times to the facility and to its parent company, Dynamic Healthcare. Both offered no comment when we asked whether those numbers are correct, or how they plan to test 99 percent of the staff each week to comply with the governor's new rules.

"I think it's a little concerning when you see very low numbers - that either the facility is behind on tracking this, or hasn't been encouraging it," said Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Chicago.

Tye: "Would you let you mom live there?"

Landon: "I would certainly look very closely at those numbers, and I would have some very strong conversations with the individuals that are working there, but that would not be my preference.

Dr. Landon says said given how low the figure for staff vaccination is at Waterfront Terrace, there might be a technical snafu, or the facility may have been late in getting their numbers to the state.

But the data have been up for months. That is why we tried so many times Tuesday to speak with leaders, nurses, and media liaisons at the facility and its parent company.

One time, we were hung up on. The other two times, they declined to comment.

Meanwhile, there are some facilities that have seen a nice turnaround.

We tracked a place in the northern suburbs that was at 8 percent in August and now at 80 percent staff vaccination. So whether that reflects education of staff, pressure from the state, or just a data dump from the facility that had been waiting to report, we just don't know.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, spokeswoman Brittany Avery of Dynamic Healthcare issued this statement, reporting the information on vaccinations for their staff is not accurately reflected by the state data:

"While we have been reporting our staff vaccination rates to NHSN (National Healthcare Safety Network) since February of 2021, unfortunately we learned this week that data is not accurately reflected on the CMS website. We have contacted CMS and are working to correct the misinformation which we believe will be updated shortly. In fact, 57% of our staff have completed their 2 dose vaccination series, and another 11 are awaiting their second dose, which will bring our overall employee vaccination rate to 66%. We continue to comply with all testing requirements as we work with our staff to encourage vaccinations and offer vaccination opportunities in order to reach our goal of 100% vaccination."

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