Attorney General Kwame Raoul Tests Positive for COVID-19

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul speaks to the media Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. (WTTW News via BlueRoomStream)Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul speaks to the media Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. (WTTW News via BlueRoomStream)

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

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“I have been self-isolating since the onset of my symptoms, and I will continue to do so in accordance with guidance from my doctor and public health authorities,” Raoul said in a statement. “Additionally, we are in the process of notifying individuals I may have come into contact with so that they can self-isolate and seek telehealth guidance.”

Raoul is the most prominent politician in the state to test positive for the novel coronavirus. The statement does not say where Raoul may have contracted COVID-19, nor what sort of symptoms he is experiencing.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker self-isolated in May after a member of his office staff was confirmed to have the virus, but Pritzker said he never felt unwell. 

Pritzker attended an event with Raoul on June 6. In a statement, a spokesperson said Pritzker “always wears a mask” and will be tested Tuesday after attending a march and other public events. Pritzker called the attorney general to wish him a speedy recovery, according to the spokesperson.

Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton was also at the June 6 event. In a statement, Stratton said she didn’t have any physical contact with Raoul, has been tested for the coronavirus and is awaiting the results. Stratton said she reached out to Raoul on Tuesday “to send prayers and positive energy to Kwame, my childhood friend.”

Raoul said he began self-isolating over the weekend after experiencing minor symptoms for the virus. He was tested for COVID-19 on Monday after consulting with his health care provider via telehealth services and received the positive results Tuesday.

“My symptoms continue to be mild, and I am in regular contact with my staff in order to continue to manage the operations of my office,” Raoul said. “As I join the countless Illinois residents working from home, the programs and services provided by the Attorney General’s office will continue uninterrupted.”

The coronavirus has disproportionately impacted Black Illinois residents, who according to the census make up 14.6% of the state’s population but who, according to the latest Illinois Department of Public Health data, account for 28.5% of coronavirus-related deaths. 

Raoul, who is Black, is a prostate cancer survivor.

As a state senator, he helped pass a law that bans police from using chokeholds and that sets standards for police use of body cameras.

He’s now making a push for Illinois to license police officers.

He told WTTW News in an interview last week that he was 17 the first time a police officer pulled a gun on him, when Chicago police wrongly pinpointed him as a suspect in a crime he hadn’t committed.

Now he said he’s working to do something that can “restore some faith and confidence in law enforcement” and “allow for accountability” such that there’s another avenue to remove an officer who has committed a particularly egregious act or who is repeatedly found to have committed misconduct.

Raoul said he does not believe in abolishing the police, though he does believe in re-examining funding priorities and police structuring “as if from the bottom up.”

While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is decreasing in the state, Raoul is urging people to follow public health guidance, abide by social distancing measures, wear masks while around others and wash their hands frequently.

“I am fortunate to be otherwise healthy and am following recommendations to protect those around me,” he said. “I encourage all Illinois residents to take precautions to protect themselves and vulnerable residents from contracting COVID-19.”

Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.

Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz (773) 509-5452  [email protected]

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