Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that he followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines after his office reported a possible coronavirus exposure last week.
The potential exposure occurred Monday during an in-person meeting, Pritzker’s office said. A person who attended the meeting later tested positive for the virus on Friday, and had started experiencing symptoms on Thursday, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.
Pritzker, who held an in-person press briefing on Monday and was seen walking in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood Saturday amid celebrations following the projection that President-elect Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidential election, was blunt when asked if he was violating CDC guidelines by not self-quarantining.
“I did not ignore those guidelines on Saturday,” Pritzker said.
Under CDC guidelines, an exposure to coronavirus is defined as coming into prolonged close contact (defined by the CDC as being within six feet for 15 or more minutes) with an individual who has begun to experience symptoms of the virus within 48 hours of that contact.
Both Ezike and Pritzker’s office say that the exposure did not occur within that 48-hour window, meaning that the governor does not have to self-quarantine for 14 days under the guidelines.
“In this case, there was an exposure Monday,” she said. “The person developed symptoms on Thursday and got tested. On Friday they came back positive. Per CDC, you go back two days from when symptoms began, and the meeting was outside of that period.”
Ezike went on to say that the governor followed proper protocols in this case, saying that her office has routinely been even stricter than what the CDC recommends when it comes to dealing with cases where the governor or his staff have been exposed to the virus.
“I’ve been stricter in cases just to be overly cautious,” she said. “I’ve put him on quarantine when we didn’t have to.”
Pritzker has self-isolated on multiple occasions, including in late September, during the pandemic when staffers have tested positive for the virus. The governor self-isolated as contact tracing was performed in this case, and tested negative for the virus at his standard Wednesday coronavirus test and in a subsequent PCR test that was performed Friday.
Ezike was quick to say that a test by itself does not stop the clock on a self-quarantine, but emphasized that Pritzker’s exposure to the virus falls outside of the guidelines for a quarantine laid out by the CDC and that the Friday test was done as a precautionary measure.
Questions arose after the governor was seen walking through Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood on Saturday following the projected victory of President-elect Joe Biden, but Ezike says that the governor was following all necessary protocols and wasn’t required to self-quarantine under CDC and IDPH guidance.
“It wouldn’t fall in the normal zone of contact tracing and isolating,” she said.