Gov. Mike DeWine tests negative for COVID-19 in 2nd test

Gov. Mike DeWine tested negative for the coronavirus in his second test Thursday following a positive result during a required screening to meet President Trump in Ohio.

Following the positive test result Thursday morning in Cleveland, DeWine returned to Columbus to be tested again with a traditional test and was set to quarantine with First Lady Fran DeWine for 14 days at his Greene County farm.

The PCR test, which looks for the genetic material specific for the virus that causes COVID-19, is known to be extremely sensitive, according to a release from the governor’s office late Thursday night.

The governor, first lady, and all staff tested negative for COVID-19, with the results run two times at the Wexner Medical Center. The DeWines said they plan to have another PCR test Saturday “out of an abundance of caution.”

“I feel good. I think anybody who watches me, whether they agree with me or not, will at least say I have plenty of energy. I literally start the day about 6 o’clock in the morning, I’m working and we kick off about 8 o’clock at night,” DeWine said during a video conference broadcast from his front porch in Cedarville.

DeWine is 73 and has had asthma since he was a teenager — two conditions that could put him at risk for complications due to the coronavirus.

“It’s under control but I take an inhaler regularly in the morning and at night,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who often appears at news conferences with DeWine, tested negative on Thursday morning.

DeWine said he doesn’t have any symptoms except for a headache and that “I feel fine.”

He urged Ohioans to continue to social distance, limit their contacts and especially to wear masks when around others outside their households.

There are no guarantees during a pandemic, but taking those steps will improve the odds, he said.

“It’s what we’ve said, and the experts have said,” DeWine said of the coronavirus. “It’s here. It lives among us.”

The rapid test administered Thursday morning in Cleveland was a requirement before meeting with Trump, said DeWine press secretary Dan Tierney.

That test was an antigen test. It is less expensive and provides quick results.

“We will be working with the manufacturer to have a better understanding of how the discrepancy between these two tests could have occurred,” the release stated.

The only other coronavirus test he had taken before the two on Thursday was one he publicly took earlier in the crisis to demonstrate the process.

“I had no symptoms, I had no indicators, no reason to think I had COVID-19,” DeWine said about not getting other tests.

Ohio House Speaker Robert Cupp, R-Lima, who is scheduled to greet Trump, said he tested negative.

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, who is attending a Trump event, said he is uncertain whether he’ll be required to take a test since he isn’t likely to greet the president.

Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Annette Chambers Smith tested positive at the end of July.

State Auditor Keith Faber said he tested negative a week ago.

A statement issued by the Ohio Democratic Party said: “We know how hard [DeWine]‘s been working to keep Ohioans safe, and this is just one more reminder that this virus can impact everyone. As fellow Ohioans, we stand with and support our governor and his family at this time.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a written statement: “We are hopeful that he will continue to have no symptoms and send our best wishes for a speedy recovery. I spoke with him yesterday about the ongoing COVID-19 response at the federal and state level and I’m certain he’ll continue to lead a strong and safe reopening of Ohio while following the proper protocols and quarantining at home in Cedarville. I hope everyone will support his recovery by continuing to do their part to slow the spread by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.”

The Ohio Department of Health reported 97,471 confirmed and probable cases as of Thursday. Ohio is on track to hit 100,000 cases in the next two to three days, based on the average new daily cases.

The style of rapid coronavirus test that DeWine took on the tarmac before greeting Trump could become more widely available in Ohio. DeWine announced that Ohio is entering a multi-state purchase agreement with Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia to buy 3.5 million rapid point-of-care tests.

DeWine said the states want to ramp up the use of rapid tests to “detect outbreaks sooner with faster turnaround time; expand testing in congregate settings such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities; and make testing more accessible for the most high-risk and hard-hit communities.”

Rapid tests aren’t as accurate as the tests where a nasal swap is sent to a lab, but with the urgency to getting quick results with a highly contagious virus, public health experts say there’s a place for both in the overall strategy.

Staff writer Kaitlin Schroeder contributed to this report.

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