Illinois Governor Says Staffer Has Tested Positive For COVID-19

Apr 8, 2020
Originally published on April 7, 2020 5:30 pm

Gov. J.B. Pritzker Tuesday led off his daily briefing to the media and residents across the state with news the coronavirus showed up in his office.

"This individual started to feel unwell on Thursday March 26  and immediately went home," he said. "That same day we sent everyone that works in the governor’s office home, and had a professional multi our deep cleaning done."

The staff member has been in isolation at home since then, Pritzker said.  "I’m incredibly happy that this member of my team is doing so well." 

He also mentioned no other staff has shown symptoms.  

"So let this just affirm what we already know. Nobody is immune,” he added.

Pritzker described other efforts to protect workers in his office.  He said those who can work from home have been told to do so.  Those entering the Thompson Center, where his Chicago office is based, must submit to temperature checks.  

Pritzker said he did not work closely with the person who has tested positive.  He added he has not been tested.

Coronavirus Deaths Climb

Tuesday's death toll in Illinois from COVID-19 was 73, the highest one day total reported since the pandemic began. The state also announced 1,287 new cases.

"There are so many tragedies here, the countless family members, loved ones, friends and neighbors who grieve the indefinite delay of funerals and celebrations of life.  The fact that this will not be the last day that we say goodbye to our fellow Illinoisans because of the terrible toll of COVID-19," Pritzker said.  
"I too am grieving, but I want you to know that my grief is only fueling my efforts to fight this virus and win."
Overall, Illinois is reporting 13,549 cases, including 380 deaths.  The virus has been confirmed in 77 counties.  

Prisoners Released

Illinois has released more non-violent and “low risk” offenders from the state’s prison system to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Governor Pritzker said more than 11-hundred inmates were released along with sixty individuals who had been in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

"We’re doing everything we can to protect those individuals who remain incarcerated in these facilities and we are focused on protecting our Corrections and Juvenile Justice staff with PPE and medical checks as they perform a vital function,” he said. 

Pritzker said all of those released early are given a medical review before they are let out.  The governor issued an executive order this week allowing more inmates to qualify for medical furloughs. 

COVID-19 can spread quickly in prisons and more cases are being reported in those facilities.  As of Tuesday, two Stateville Correctional Center inmates have died. 

Some civil rights groups are calling for thousands more to be released from the state’s prisons during the pandemic. 

Tougher Enforcement Might Be Needed

Illinois’ governor won’t rule out having people arrested for failing to follow directives aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.  

In recent days, Governor J.B. Pritzker has shown more frustration with people ignoring the rules.  But he’s stopped short of telling local authorities how to handle the problem.  Now, he’s raised the point that enforcement might need to get tougher.

“We’re asking people to do the right thing.  And the vast majority of people are doing the right thing," he said.  "But if someone is encouraging people to get together in groups of more than 10 or to not socially distance, I think at some point it is worth considering a real consequence.”

Pritzker was asked at his daily briefing if residents should call police if their neighbors are in violation.  The governor said yes. 

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