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50th District Update: January 12

A joint Senate and House hearing to learn more about the incidents of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy Veterans’ Home was held this week in Chicago.

Additionally, in recognition of the National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Senate Republican lawmakers are joining a nationwide effort to raise awareness about this form of modern-day slavery.

Joint House and Senate Hearing Held on Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy Veterans’ Home

Seeking answers about the cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy Veterans’ Home, a joint meeting of the Illinois Senate and House was convened in Chicago on Jan. 9. Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Dr. Nirav Shah, joined Erica Jeffries, Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, to provide testimony about how the state departments have handled the situation.

Lawmakers, including State Senator Sam McCann (R-Plainview) questioned the IDPH on the handling of the outbreak which claimed the lives of 15 veterans, including a delay of 6 days before notifying the public.

“This process is still ongoing and we don’t have all the answers yet. One thing is clear, we absolutely cannot allow this to happen again. Our veterans bravely sacrificed themselves to protect us, and we must do everything we can to protect them when they are in our care. Our safety net has failed, and I have called on IDPH Director Nirav Shah to resign. I voted ‘no’ to his confirmation and I have seen nothing since to lead me to believe he is the right person to serve as our state’s highest public health official," said Senator McCann.

“It is also very apparent that we need a capital plan that can help upgrade the infrastructure of our veterans’ homes and finish the stalled veterans’ home project in Chicago. I have visited the Quincy home several times since I have been in office and have been impressed by the residents, the staff, and the facility. But we can and must do better. I will continue to closely monitor what is happening and I pledge to do everything in my power to create the absolute safest environment possible for our veterans.”

Human Trafficking Awareness

Right now, human trafficking is occurring across the state and throughout the nation. Raising awareness in all communities across Illinois and encouraging the public to recognize the signs of human trafficking are some critical steps that can be taken to help end human trafficking.

In January, the nation observes Human Trafficking Awareness Month, however, the fight to end these types of human rights violations must continue 365 days a year.

In 2017, 100 cases of human trafficking in Illinois were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, but undoubtedly, many more cases went unreported. No community or state, including Illinois, is immune to this form of modern-day slavery.

Experts have found that identifying key indicators of human trafficking is a crucial step to helping victims. Below are some of the possible signs of human trafficking:

·         Does the person show signs of physical harm?

·         Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?

·         Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?

·         Has this child stopped attending school?

·         Is the person free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes?

·         Has the person become isolated from family, friends, or sources of support?

·         Has the person demonstrated a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?

·         Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?

·         Is the person disoriented or confused, or show signs of mental or physical abuse?

·         Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?

·         Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?

·         Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers?

·         Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?

·         Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?

It’s important to recognize that these indicators are not always present in human trafficking situations, and the presence or absence of any of these indicators does not necessarily mean an individual is a victim of human trafficking.

If you or someone you know is, or may be a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) or the Illinois Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-252-2873).

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