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National Guard Heads To Park Forest, Kankakee To Help With COVID-19 Outbreak

CHICAGO (CBS) -- CBS 2 has learned the National Guard is heading to hard hit developmental centers in Illinois, where cases of COVID-19 are spiking.

Nowhere have more confirmed cases been higher than at the Ludeman Developmental Center in Park Forest.

CBS 2's Chris Tye has the details.

The front line at places like the Ludeman Center, where they care for adults with mental disabilities, are staffers. As of now, more than two dozen there have tested positive. Some were told if you don't have a fever, you have to be at work.

Now, some of that pressure coming off as the National Guard comes in.

More than 600 members of the Illinois National Guard were recently activated. They jumped into construction, logistics and now mental health care.

In recent weeks, CBS 2 has reported the outbreaks of COVID-19 cases at the Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee, where as of Wednesday, there were 89 positive cases reported between staff and residents, making up 5% of everyone on the campus.

But now the Department of Health and Human Services said the Ludeman Center in Park Forest, which has a smaller head count, has more positive cases. As of Wednesday morning, 103 cases. That's 8% of  everyone on campus.

Starting as early as Saturday, 10 members of the National Guard will be at Ludeman at all times, operating their five check points where temperatures are taken and questionnaires are filled out.

Because of its size, 24 members of the National Guard will be doing the same job at Shapiro in Kankakee. The state hopes this will lessen the pressure on staffers who can slide back to full-time patient care and not manage temperature checks and questionnaires.

These are jobs the National Guard has never had to handle before, but demand to protect the state's most vulnerable creates new need in unprecedented spots.

The Illinois National Guard  being asked to do much more than work. They're helping with mortuary work, helping to facilitate emergency lodging for first responders and the build out at McCormick Place.

They're expected at Ludeman on Saturday.

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