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Bielema tests positive for COVID, out Saturday at Iowa

George McDonald will lead the Illini.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Minnesota Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois head coach Bret Bielema tested positive for COVID-19 this week, the program announced Tuesday.

In a virtual news conference Monday, Bielema said a support staff member and student manager tested positive for the virus after the Penn State game last month. Bielema said he got his booster shot last week and the team was 100% vaccinated before the start of the season.

“After developing mild symptoms yesterday, I was tested and unfortunately late Monday night tested positive for a breakthrough case of COVID-19,” Bielema said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that I will not be with our team this week when we travel to Iowa, but I’m grateful that I’m vaccinated and received the booster shot last week.”

Bielema said assistant head coach George McDonald will take over head coaching duties against the Hawkeyes, which is Bielema’s alma mater.

“Unfortunately, we are being reminded every day that the pandemic is not over – a point brought home by this most recent news regarding Coach Bielema,” said athletic director Josh Whitman in a statement. “As with every other part of the program, Coach and the football staff have a plan for this contingency, and they began executing on that plan overnight.”