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Illinois football coach Bret Bielema tests positive for COVID-19

Bielema, 51, is vaccinated and received the booster shot last week. He’ll miss Saturday’s game at Iowa.

Illinois v Penn State
Bielema will miss Saturday’s game at Iowa.
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Illinois head coach Bret Bielema tested positive for COVID-19, he announced Tuesday.

Bielema, 51, is vaccinated and received the booster shot last week. He’ll miss Saturday’s game at Iowa.

“After developing mild symptoms yesterday, I was tested and, unfortunately, late Monday night tested positive for a breakthrough case,” he said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that I will not be with our team this week. …

“If all stays on the current path, I should be available and present for next week. Our team has shown repeatedly this year that ‘next man up’ is the standard, not the exception, and this will be another example of this mentality.”

Assistant head coach George McDonald will lead the team while Bielema is out. The Illini are 4-6 with games against Iowa and Northwestern remaining and need to win both to lock up an invitation to a bowl game.

“Unfortunately,” athletic director Josh Whitman said, “we are being reminded every day that the pandemic is not over.”