Illinois governor to isolate for a second time after another staffer tests positive for coronavirus

CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker is going into self-isolation for the second time after a third staff member in his office tested positive for the coronavirus, the governor's office said Tuesday.

The unidentified staff member tested negative Wednesday during a routine screening for employees in the governor's office but was tested again Monday after developing symptoms and that test came back positive, according to the governor's office.

The staff member attended a Wednesday event with Pritzker in Chicago and traveled with the governor to Marion on Thursday and Marseilles on Sunday.

Both Pritzker and the staffer wore masks "during the entirety of their interactions," according to the governor's office.

Pritzker and all close contacts will be going into isolation for 14 days, and contact tracing is underway for the staff member who tested positive. Organizers of the events the staffer attended have been notified, the governor's office said. All staff who are currently working in the governor's office rather than working from home are being tests and won't be allowed back until testing negative.

Pritzker isolated in his Gold Coast home for several days in May after a senior staff member tested positive for the coronavirus. The governor tested negative at the time.

—Chicago Tribune


Americans are drinking more alcohol during pandemic — especially women, study finds

Pandemic-fatigued Americans are drinking about 14% more alcohol this year than they did in 2019, an alarming increase that's even more pronounced among women, researchers said Tuesday.

The new study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, found a 17% increase in alcohol consumption among women and 19% among people ages 30 to 59. They also found that heavy drinking among women — four or more drinks within two hours — went up by 41%.

The study was conducted with a sample of 1,540 people ages 30 to 80. The reported surge for most participants in the group translates into one additional drinking day per month.

The trend should not come as a surprise. A report by market research firm Nielsen found that sales of alcoholic beverages in the U.S. rose 55% in the week ending March 21, when COVID-19 was just starting to spread across the country.

"We've had anecdotal information about people buying and consuming more alcohol, but this is some of the first survey-based information that shows how much alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic," Michael Pollard, lead author of the JAMA study, told Forbes.

Pollard, a sociologist with the RAND Corp. in California, warned that drowning one's sorrows can lead to a series of health problems.

"In addition to a range of negative physical health associations, excessive alcohol use may lead to or worsen existing mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, which may themselves be increasing during COVID-19," he wrote in the study.

—New York Daily News


Wisconsin court seen as unlikely to rule on voter purge by Nov. 3

The Wisconsin Supreme Court probably won't decide before Election Day whether the swing state must purge more than 200,000 names from voter rolls, according to Gillian Drummond, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Justice Department.

On Tuesday, the state's top court heard oral arguments in a lawsuit by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty seeking to overturn a decision last year by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which delayed removing voters who might have moved or didn't respond within two years to notices asking if they were still living at their registered address.

Lawyers with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The group won its initial suit when a trial judge ordered the Wisconsin elections commission to purge the voters who hadn't responded to its inquiries whether they had moved. But an appeals court overturned that decision.

The state Justice Department has argued that under Wisconsin's election law, local entities, not the elections commission, must determine whether a particular voter has moved within or outside of a municipality for voting purposes. That means only local entities are empowered to deactivate a voter's registration, according to the state.

While President Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by 1 percentage point over Hilary Clinton, this year's Democratic challenger Joe Biden holds a 10-point edge over Trump in Wisconsin, 54% to 44%, according to a recent NBC News/Marist poll. The election is Nov. 3.

—Bloomberg News


2 Fulton County deputies killed in Georgia crash involving tractor-trailer

ATLANTA — Two Fulton County sheriff's deputies were killed Tuesday in a crash involving a tractor-trailer on I-20 in east Georgia, officials said.

The fatal crash happened shortly after 11 a.m. Eastern time at Exit 190 near Grovetown, Georgia State Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Stephanie Stallings said.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office found the Fulton deputies in a marked patrol car, she said. Both deputies were pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators determined that their Dodge Charger hit the back of a tractor-trailer that was stopped for traffic, Stallings said. The GSP is investigating the crash, but the deputies' names are not being released until their families have been notified.

"Please keep the Fulton County Sheriff's Office family and the family members of all involved in your thoughts and prayers," Stallings said.

The deputies' deaths prompted swift condolences from state leaders.

"Tragic news," Gov. Brian Kemp said in a tweet, asking for prayers for the families and colleagues of the deputies killed.

"The thoughts and prayers of all Georgians are with you," Kemp said.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr echoed the governor in a tweet and called the news "devastating."

Both eastbound lanes and one westbound lane of I-20 remain blocked for the crash investigation, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Eastbound traffic "can detour across the median and head back" west, the agency said in a tweet.

—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


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