By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – A staffer who recently traveled with Gov. JB Pritzker has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the governor and others to self-isolate for a period of two weeks, his office announced Tuesday.
The unnamed staffer tested negative last Wednesday during weekly testing, but was tested again Monday after showing symptoms and was confirmed positive.
According to the governor’s office, the staffer attended events with Pritzker on Wednesday in Chicago, Thursday in Marion and Sunday in Marseilles. Contact tracing efforts have begun and event organizers at those locations have been contacted.
Those who had contact with the staffer will isolate for 14 days, and all staff who report to the governor’s office must test negative before returning to work, according to a news release. A spokesperson for the governor said everyone who works in the office was tested after the positive result was revealed, and they were all negative.
The governor still plans to hold occasional COVID-19 updates, according to his office. When a staffer tested positive earlier this year, the governor did so virtually.
Meanwhile, Region 1 of the state’s reopening plan saw a second straight day with a COVID-19 test positivity rate exceeding 8 percent, according to the most recent data for Saturday, Sept. 26, as it increased to 8.3 percent. Later Tuesday, the governor’s office announced the region would see increased mitigations starting Saturday, Oct. 3, due to the rising rate of spread.
“The concerning uptick in Region 1’s positivity – jumping more than two percentage points in two weeks even as the majority of Illinois continues to see downward trends – demands increased efforts to stop the spread in our northwestern counties,” Pritzker said in a news release.
The region includes the northwest part of the state from the Rockford area to the western edge of Illinois, including Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties.
Added mitigations include closure of bars and restaurants to indoor services, while those facilities in the region must now close to outdoor service at 11 p.m. until mitigations are lifted.
Meetings, social events and gatherings will be limited to the lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity throughout the mitigation period, while party buses will not be allowed to operate. Gaming and casinos will close at 11 p.m. and be limited to 25 percent of capacity.
The region must see its positivity rate decrease to 6.5 percent or lower for three straight days to see mitigations lifted.
If the positivity rate averages between 6.5 and 8 percent, the new mitigations will remain in place. If averages greater than or equal to 8 percent after 14 days, more stringent mitigations may be applied, according to the governor’s office.
Region 4, which includes the Metro East area on the St. Louis border, saw its positivity rate tick up by one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.2 percent as of Saturday. That region must also fall below 6.5 percent and remain there for three days in order for added mitigations to be lifted.
Also Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced another 1,362 cases of the virus and 23 more deaths in COVID-19-positive individuals.
The death total is now at 8,637 in Illinois, and there have been 291,001 confirmed cases among more than 5.5 million test results reported. There were 45,624 test results reported over the previous 24 hours, making for a one-day positivity rate of 3 percent, which brought the rolling seven-day average rate to 3.6 percent.
At the end of the day Monday, there were 1,535 people reported hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois, including 363 in intensive care unit beds and 151 on ventilators. Those numbers fluctuate considerably daily but have been trending slightly upward in recent weeks.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.