Different results, different protocols for Trump and Pritzker after staffers contract COVID-19

To correct a Saturday article, Illinois' mask mandate began May 1.

Illinoisans are in a unique position with President Donald Trump in the hospital due to COVID-19 and Gov. J.B. Pritzker in quarantine.

Pritzker tested negative for the disease but said Tuesday that he would work from home for 14 days along with other members of his administration who might have been exposed by one of his staffers.

Trump's positive diagnosis came early Friday on the heels of an announcement Thursday that top aide Hope Hicks was infected with COVID-19. Hicks was in close contact with Trump much of the week.

The presidential bombshell came Friday as the number of daily deaths from COVID-19 in Illinois reached 47, the highest tally since June 24, when 64 fatalities were recorded. New cases of the respiratory disease Friday came to 2,206.

It's not the first time people working with Trump and Pritzker have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Trump's valet, a military service member, came down with COVID-19 May 6, but the president did not quarantine.

A senior aide to Pritzker contracted the virus around May 11, and as a result the governor isolated at home for a period.

The men have diametrically opposed views on face coverings. Pritzker mandated wearing masks in public effective May 1 and continually exhorts Illinoisans to follow the rules.

The president is skeptical about masks and frequently goes without one in public, as do many in his administration.

"I don't wear masks like him," Trump said of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden during their debate Tuesday. Biden tested negative Friday.

After learning the staff member had tested positive on Monday, "I and every member of my team who comes into the governor's office tested negative in an office-wide check Monday afternoon," Pritzker said at a virtual briefing from his home Tuesday.

As of Friday, "the staffer is recovering from mild symptoms at home. The governor is healthy and at home isolating for the required 14 days," Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said.

Abudayyeh said a limited number of staffers work in person at the governor's office.

"Everyone has their temperature checked before entering the building. Staffers wear masks, and when meetings take place we use larger conference rooms so people can spread out," she said. "The governor travels with a small set of staff members. We try to keep all of our events below 50 people and hold them outdoors when possible. The staff reporting to the office gets tested once a week, and the office also undergoes a deep cleaning once a week."

The progression of COVID-19 "varies quite a bit," Edward Hospital infectious disease specialist Jonathon Pinsky said.

"Some patients can have symptoms for seven to 10 days and then get worse and develop COVID-19 pneumonia. Some have a rapid progress of symptoms over four to five days and then get COVID-19 pneumonia," he said.

"The vast majority have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all and get over it in a week."

Illinois' pandemic death toll is 8,743, and cases since the pandemic began stand at 297,646.

Of the 47 deaths announced Friday, 66% were in their 70s or older and 91.5% were in their 60s or older. About one-third of the deaths occurred in Chicago and the suburbs, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.

Illinois' positivity test rate for the virus dipped to 3.4% based on a seven-day average; most of the week it was 3.6% to 3.7%. One reason is Friday's daily positivity rate of 3% as labs across Illinois processed a high number of tests - 72,691 - in the last 24 hours.

The number of patients in Illinois hospitals with COVID-19 stands at 1,678, higher than the seven-day average of 1,579.

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  An Edward Hospital health care worker displays a COVID-19 test kit. Daily deaths from COVID-19 rose by 47 Friday with 2,206 new cases. Mark Welsh/, March 2020
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