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'More frustrating than anything else': McConchie describes his breakthrough COVID-19 case

Daily Herald

Tuesday, September 14, 2021  |  Article  |  Marni Pyke

McConchie, Dan--State Senate, 26

For an unusual week and a half this August, one of Illinois' most influential Republicans set up shop from a card table in his garage.

The quirky setting for Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie occurred after the Hawthorn Woods resident contracted a breakthrough case of COVID-19.

In announcing his diagnosis Aug. 21, McConchie said he was grateful to have been fully vaccinated in the spring and experience only mild symptoms.

A fully recovered McConchie explained Friday he initially thought he had a summer cold or allergies, but then he heard from a fully vaccinated colleague who was experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms such as loss of smell. The two had traveled together to Springfield recently.

McConchie tested positive for the virus and settled into quarantine at home.

"It was more frustrating than anything else, being in this position you're always going somewhere or doing something or have to be someplace," he said.

Along with rescheduling meetings, McConchie retooled his office.

"I set up a card table in the garage to do stuff there and slept in my daughter's bedroom," as the college student was back on campus.

Meanwhile his wife, Milena, cooked up a storm and the two dined on their patio -- at a distance. "That was memorable," McConchie said.

As for symptoms, mostly "I just had congestion," McConchie noted. Although "at one point it felt like I was breathing through pinholes."

Overall, "I'll say it was relatively mild and my doctor says because having been vaccinated, it probably assisted in keeping that mild, and having no expertise I took him at his word.

"I dealt with a lot of medical professionals during this, and everyone was really great," McConchie added. "I'm thankful for the work that they do."

The highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 is the predominant strain in the U.S. now, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday a study of more than 600,000 COVID-19 cases from April through mid-July shows unvaccinated people were "over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from the disease" than vaccinated people.

But delta is also linked to growth in breakthrough cases. Another CDC study of fully vaccinated people in June and July released Friday showed they accounted for 18% of new COVID-19 cases, 14% of hospitalizations and 16% of deaths, an increase from the spring.