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COVID-19: Illinois Executive Order Grants Civil Immunity to Assisted Living Providers

Health & Life Sciences Alert Randall R. Fearnow, Mark W. Bina, Jaya F. White, Ryan L. Torres

Quarles & Brady’s Long-Term Care Practice Group continues to monitor state responses to COVID-19, including the granting of immunity to health care providers and facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we noted last month, Indiana has a law that provides immunity for health care providers responding to declared disaster emergencies, which has been around since 2006. Illinois, on the other hand, is providing immunity to health care providers and facilities via Executive Order. Governor J.B. Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-19 ("EO 2020-19") on April 1, 2020, granting civil immunity to health care facilities, health care professionals, and health care volunteers who render assistance in support of the state’s response to COVID-19, except when such care rises to the level of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

There is a long list of facilities that received protections under EO 2020-19, including skilled nursing facilities and any government-operated site providing health care services established for the purpose of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as alternate care facilities. Assisted living facilities, an industry particularly hard hit by COVID-19, were not included in the list of facilities in EO 2020-19. However, on April 30, 2020, in Executive Order 2020-33 ("EO 2020-33"), the governor reissued EO 2020-19 and amended it to expand the immunity to both supportive living facilities and assisted living facilities. The immunity in Illinois is broad and extends to health care volunteers, including medical and nursing students who are supporting a health care facility in its pandemic response.

In accordance with EO 2020-33, all health care facilities, health care professionals, and volunteers are directed to assist in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to be considered “rendering assistance” in exchange for civil immunity. For example, health care facilities were required to cancel or postpone elective procedures and surgeries until the issuance of Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidance allowing these procedures to resume on May 11, 2020. Facilities are also required to take measures to increase the number of beds, preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), and take necessary steps to treat patients with COVID-19.

To discuss whether these civil immunity protections apply to you or your business, or discuss whether similar executive orders or statutes have been implemented in your state, please contact your Quarles & Brady attorney or: