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On Thursday, the office of Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced that he tested positive for the coronavirus after going through the protocol to greet President Trump on the tarmac of the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.
But that evening, the 73-year-old’s office clarified their earlier statement, saying that a more sensitive test determined that he did not have COVID-19.
DeWine’s initial positive was from a rapid-response testing kit, while the polymerase chain reaction test administered in Columbus later in the day determine that neither he nor his wife had the virus. “The PCR test looks for the specific RNA for the SARS CoV-2 — in other words, the genetic material specific for the virus that causes COVID-19,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “This test is known to be extremely sensitive, as well as specific, for the virus.” Both DeWine and his wife, Frances Struewing, would take another PCR test on Saturday to confirm the results.
Unlike other party leaders, DeWine has been an early and frequent voice of pandemic prevention: In March, he was the first governor to shut down schools statewide, and Ohio was one of the earliest states to announce stay-at-home orders. This summer, as cases began to rise in the state, he warned residents that “the enemy is here.” (Since July 8, Ohio has consistently recorded over 1,000 new cases per day.) On July 22, DeWine issued a statewide mask mandate, clarifying on August 4 that K-12 students returning to school this year must also wear face coverings. Shortly after DeWine’s initial positive test was made public, a Republican state representative mocked him on Facebook, asking, “I thought masks worked?”
DeWine would have been the second American governor to test positive for the coronavirus. Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt, also a Republican, tested positive in July.