Pritzker in isolation after possible exposure to COVID-19

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker self-isolated Friday and was awaiting test results after learning that he may have been exposed to the coronavirus at a meeting earlier this week, the third time during the pandemic that the Democratic governor has taken the step.

Pritzker’s press team disclosed that the governor was self-isolating about an hour after he announced that he might have to impose more safety restrictions if the state’s coronavirus cases continue to escalate. Illinois has seen more than 20,000 new cases in the past two days.

Someone who tested positive for COVID-19 attended a meeting with Pritzker Monday in a large conference room at his Chicago office, according to a statement from his press team. The statement did not say what, if any, direct interaction Pritzker had with the individual.

The previous two times Pritzker self-isolated came in response to a staff member getting sick. But in those instances, the announcement included notice that Pritzker had already tested negative. Spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said Friday evening that a routine test Wednesday, two days after the exposure, was negative. She said the result of Pritzker’s latest test would be available Saturday.

Pritzker pleaded with residents to do what they can to slow the spread of the virus. As of this week, Illinois has reported more than 10,000 COVID-19 deaths.

“We’re in a bad situation (but) I’m not lookin at the broader mitigation of stay at home ... as in something I would do in the coming days or a week,” Pritzker said told reporters Friday. “But I can’t guarantee you what it looks like two weeks from now or three weeks. I just don’t know.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the state’s public health department, urged residents who receive a call from contact tracers to pick up the phone and answer any questions they have. Caller ID will identify the contact as coming from “IL COVID HELP.”

“This isn’t just about you, this is about all of us,” Ezike said. “The next several months are going to get very tough, they’re going to be very hard but how tough and how hard and how bad it is till depends on us. Please think beyond ourselves and do what we can to protect all of us. ”

The state announced Friday that the 10,374 total new cases in a 24-hour period broke Thursday’s previous record by more than 400 cases. It also announced 49 deaths on Friday, down from the 97 on Thursday, which had been the highest since early June.

The health department said the number of coronavirus patients being treated in hospitals had climbed from under 3,900 to nearly 4,100. After seeing a doubling in the number of patients in intensive care units in hospitals around the state, the health department said the number of patients in these units has climbed in a day from 772 to 786.