Coronavirus hits state Department of Revenue

Willard Ice Building remains open to the public

Three state Department of Revenue employees who work in the Willard Ice Building in Springfield have tested positive for coronavirus, prompting some workers to be sent home until Monday.

The building remained open to the public today. The outbreak began unfolding last week. On July 22,  a manager in the department’s central processing bureau, sent an email to employees of a colleague suspected of having the virus. Employees who worked in the area were told to leave work and come back the next day, as scheduled. Meanwhile, work areas would be cleaned.

“We have been informed a member of our team may have tested positive,” the manager wote. “Due to the time of day, you are being directed to leave the Willard Ice Building immediately so we can clean the area. You will be placed on on-call status for the remainder of your work period today.”


The suspected positive test was confirmed. The next day, agency director David Harris sent a memo to all employees in the building. “We informed employees nearby of the situation and asked them to leave work for the rest of the day,” Harris wrote. “We then began an enhanced intensive cleaning of areas the employee worked or visited, and the solvent in that cleaning was a powerful disinfectant proven to kill COVID-19.”

On Wednesday, a second positive test was confirmed. Two workers, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Illinois Times that employees were told to leave for an hour or so, then were returned to work. One said that work resumed at 1:30 p.m. A manager on Wednesday sent a second email to employees about the second positive test. “Although the individual has not been on site since last week, out of extreme precaution, Secretary of State staff was onsite to sanitize (work areas), the coffee bars, training room, common areas and the restrooms on the second floor,” the manager wrote. “Thank you for your quick exit this afternoon as we continue to ensure the health and safety of our staff.”

The department learned of the third positive test late Wednesday afternoon, agency spokesman Sam Salustro wrote in an email. The department notified employees of the third positive test on Wednesday evening, with a manager, sending an email encouraging workers to get tested and send confirmation of testing to management along with follow-ups on test results. The manager told workers to stay home today and Friday.

“At this time, we are planning to have everyone return to work at your usual time on Monday,” the manager wrote.


Salustro said about 70 workers are affected. The Willard Ice Building was open to the public on Wednesday.

Salustro said that the agency has followed guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency. “However, since all three employees worked in the same programmatic area, the department is taking extra precautions by requesting employees in the same area to not come to work Thursday or Friday and encouraging them to get tested,” Salustro wrote. “During that time, the department will conduct an enhanced and thorough disinfection of the area.”

The Department of Revenue is at least the second state agency in Springfield to be hit by coronavirus. After two employees tested positive, the state Board of Elections shut down this week and won’t reopen until Aug. 7.


Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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