Gov. Pritzker tests positive for COVID-19, ‘experiencing mild symptoms’ after Florida politicking

The governor’s office on Tuesday said Pritzker received a positive result during his routine COVID-19 testing regimen “after being notified of several close contacts testing positive.”

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker puts away his face mask before delivering a daily Illinois coronavirus update in 2020.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker puts away his face mask before delivering a daily Illinois coronavirus update in 2020.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has tested positive for COVID-19 just days after traveling to Florida to deliver an address that is once again stoking suspicions he’s considering a run for president.

The governor’s office on Tuesday said Pritzker received a positive result during his routine COVID-19 testing regimen “after being notified of several close contacts testing positive.”

Pritzker, 57, tweeted that he is experiencing mild symptoms and is being treated with the antiviral medication Paxlovid.

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The governor’s office said “other staffers” have also recently tested positive and are working from home.

“I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and am experiencing mild symptoms, but thanks to anti-viral medications like Paxlovid and vaccines I’ll be on the mend much quicker,” Pritzker tweeted Tuesday morning. “Thank you for all the well wishes!”

The Democratic governor, who is fully vaccinated and double boosted, is following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines by working from home. It’s the first time the governor has contracted the virus.

Pritzker on Saturday delivered an address at Florida Democrats’ annual Leadership Blue Gala. U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., also tested positive after attending the event. The address, along with another political speech delivered before the New Hampshire Democratic Party last month, is ramping up suspicions that Pritzker is considering a presidential run.

In his Florida speech, Pritzker took digs at everyone from former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, to hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin, to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has his own share of presidential buzz.

“The funny thing is that both Rauner and Griffin claim they don’t come from the Donald Trump wing of the Republican Party,” Pritzker said. “Instead, they would say they’re DeSantis Republicans — which is a little bit like saying you’ve never been a fan of Darth Vader but you support the Empire’s political agenda.”

But before Pritzker can decide on a White House run, the governor is running for reelection, facing state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, in the November election.

State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, speaks at an election night rally at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham.

State Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, speaks at an election night rally at the Thelma Keller Convention Center in Effingham.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

And COVID-19 mitigations have been a focal point in the governor’s race. Bailey sued Pritzker over his stay-at-home orders and also was booted off the floor of the Legislature for refusing to wear a mask.

On Tuesday, Bailey wished Pritzker well.

“Cindy and I wish Governor Pritzker and his family well and pray for a speedy recovery,” the Republican nominee said in a statement.

Pritzker’s bout with COVID-19 comes on the heels of his effort to move the state toward “living with this virus.”

Last week the governor lifted a vaccine mandate for students and faculty at colleges and other higher education institutions, which can still impose their own mandates. The governor called it part of his plan “to carefully unwind” COVID restrictions while pushing for vaccinations.

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