AUSTIN REVEALS SHE TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS
Chicago’s second-most-senior alderman has tested positive for the coronavirus — after testing negative at a different hospital on the same day.
Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) tested positive last month after what sources described as a bleeding episode that initially appeared to signal complications from the surgery she had five years ago to repair a torn aorta that nearly killed her.
Sources said the 71-year-old Austin was taken by ambulance to Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, where she tested negative for COVID-19. She was then taken by ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where the original surgery to repair the torn aorta had been conducted.
There, Austin was tested again. This time, the test came back positive, sources said. The veteran alderman, second in seniority only to indicted Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), was then transferred to a floor at Northwestern reserved for coronavirus patients in isolation.
She apparently remained there for a while and has missed the last two City Council meetings, both conducted online.
The source of the bleeding was not known.
Austin could not be reached for comment. It was not known whether she remains hospitalized or is recuperating at home.
Though COVID-19 is commonly associated with severe respiratory symptoms, coronavirus patients also can develop blood clots leading to serious blockages such as deep vein thrombosis, a pulmonary embolism and stroke.
Austin was bounced as Budget Committee chairman by Mayor Lori Lightfoot only to be appeased with a consolation prize — as chairman of the newly created Committee on Contract Oversight and Equity.
On Monday, Lightfoot tweeted: “Keeping Alderman Carrie Austin and the rest of her family in my prayers. Alderman Austin is a fighter and I’m hoping for her to have a swift recovery.”
In a letter posted last week to her Facebook page, Austin informed constituents she had become the highest-ranking city official known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Just want to drop a short health check update and let you know I’m doing well . ... For your information, I have been stricken by COVID-19 and currently progressing toward full recovery,” Austin wrote in a “Dear Residents & Neighbors” letter.
The letter makes no other mention of her latest health scare, except to express her gratitude to those “who have reached out to check up on my well-being . ... Your acts of kindness were warmly appreciated.”
Five years ago, Austin choked back tears as she talked in surprising detail about the health crisis that nearly killed her. It was stunning in an era when HIPAA laws allow public officials to conceal the true nature of their health issues.
“I tore my aorta. I almost wasn’t here. But I’m grateful that God allowed me to be here. I was in the hospital 29 days. For the first two weeks, I was unconscious. I was in a coma. Blood pressure went up over 300. The bottom number was 205. They couldn’t bring it down. But I’m grateful for the God that I serve because I’m sitting here today,” Austin said on that day as her colleagues applauded.
Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) at a City Council meeting last year.