COVID-19 positive event worker prompts concern of more exposure

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TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — The Christian County Emergency Management Agency is sending a warning to people after a worker at a large public event in Taylorville tested positive for COVID-19.

Hundreds of people attended the annual “Chillifest” in Taylorville over the weekend, which included a bags tournament. On Wednesday an employee of the Capital City Cornhole company tested positive for coronavirus. The health district and EMA officials are cautioning everybody who went to the Chillifest to monitor themselves for symptoms.

The Greater Taylorville Chamber of Commerce hosted the Chillifest. They say the person who has COVID-19 contracted the virus before coming to the event, but didn’t test positive until Wednesday.

More than 230 people showed up at the downtown square for the 35th annual Chillifest. In a series of meetings leading up to the event the Christian County Health Department warned the chamber against hosting the event. Kevin Schott with the Christian-Montgomery EMA said, “We stressed our message that we were very uncomfortable with this happening. Our fear was that, during this event, somebody would come down with COVID-19 and unfortunately our fears were realized.”

While the Capital City Cornhole company did not respond to WCIA’s question asking if that employee was wearing a mask and social distancing, EMA officials did find out how he participated in the event. Schott says, “We were notified that one of their employees that had been very active throughout the tournament, played in the tournament, registering people had come down positive with COVID.”

When WCIA asked the chamber of commerce why they proceeded to host the event against the recommendation of health officials, the president refused to answer. The chamber did release a statement saying in part…

“The cornhole organization held four tournaments from Friday, Oct. 2nd to Sunday, October 5th in Taylorville, including two outdoors at Chillifest, one at the American Legion, and one at Mity’s Pub. With the COVID-19 incubation period being 5 to 7 days, the participant had apparently contracted the virus before coming to the event last weekend. During Chillifest, organizers encouraged visitors to wear masks and remain socially distant. Masks were distributed free of charge, extra hand sanitizer stations were placed on the grounds and visitors were constantly reminded over both days to bring their own folding chairs. Many additional precautions were taken for vendor areas, pageant participants and more. The Chamber echoes the guidelines issued by the Chris-Mont Emergency Management Agency, which encourages you to wait to be tested if you are not showing symptoms. Waiting 5 to 7 days from your last date of exposure allows for an incubation period of COVID, and if you test sooner than 5 days you may test negative despite having the virus.”

Randal J. Miller
Greater Taylorville Chamber of Commerce President

Health officials say the “full extent of this mass exposure at such a large gathering is not possible to full contact trace.” If you have symptoms they say to go get tested.

Christian County is currently on the state warning list for its high rate of positive coronavirus test results.

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