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State Worked to Shape Coverage of Legionnaires' Outbreak

Email messages show state officials worked to put a positive spin on news coverage as a deadly Legionnaires disease outbreak unfolded at an Illinois veterans' home.

Emails were obtained between state and local health officials and the agency that oversees the home,  despite efforts by Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration to keep the messages secret. 

Legionnaires' has contributed to 13 deaths at the veterans' home in Quincy since 2015. Dozens more have been sickened. 

The emails include exchanges between officials and press aides prior to issuing the first news release about the outbreak. An epidemiologist at a Quincy hospital described a draft as "smoke to cover peoples (sic) butts."

Rauner has come under attack for his handling of the crisis. A spokeswoman said the safety of veterans and staff "is and always has been a priority."

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.