After Second COVID-19 Test, DeWine Is Negative

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — After a positive response from a rapid COVID-19 test prevented Gov. Mike DeWine from welcoming President Donald Trump to Ohio, a second test confirms neither he, nor First Lady Fran DeWine, nor the governor’s staffers have the disease.

Just before 10 p.m. Thursday, DeWine’s office released a statement confirming the test he, his wife and his staffers took after the governor returned from Cleveland came back negative.

The test was a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR test, which looks for the specificgenetic material specific for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the release. The test is “extremely sensitive” and specific for the virus.

The PCR tests for the DeWines and the governor’s staffers were run twice, according to the release. Both times the results came back negative.

“We feel confident in the results from Wexner Medical Center,” according to the statement. “This is the same PCR test that has been used over 1.6 million times in Ohio by hospitals and labs all over the state.”

The test administered earlier in the day by the Trump administration per standard procedure for meeting the president was an antigen test. Though such tests reduce the cost and improve turnaround times for COVID-19 testing, they are new and “we do not have much experience with them here in Ohio,” according to the statement.

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

Out of caution and at the direction of medical professionals, the governor and first lady will have another PCR test on Saturday.

Thursday afternoon, before the PCR tests were known, the governor addressed the press via Zoom from the front porch of his Cedarville home. Aside from a headache, which he said is common for him, the governor said he felt fine.

Since Ohio began dealing with the pandemic in March, the DeWines have been secluded at home except for when the governor goes to Columbus for his coronavirus briefings.

During those briefings, DeWine has talked about how he and Fran visit their children and grandchildren by wearing their masks and talking from a distance, with no close contact. Both of their daughters are pregnant, he said, so “we’re very, very careful with who we see.”

Otherwise, the governor keeps his circle of influence to about four or five people, including the State Highway Patrolmen who drive him and his cameraman, all of whom received tests.

Until Thursday, the only other test DeWine received was a nasal swab test during his briefing June 24, which returned negative. Having no symptoms since then, he saw “no reason to get tested,” he said.

Prior to Thursday evening’s negative test result, DeWine said he planned to continue working from home and taking part in coronavirus briefings, including Friday’s briefing at 2 p.m.

The governor’s office did not say if he still planned to quarantine for 14 days.

“Anybody who knows me knows I’m going to continue to do what I do,” he said during Thursday afternoon’s press briefing. “So far, my work is not going to be impacted.”

At age 73, DeWine is in the vulnerable age range for COVID-19. He has also dealt with asthma since he was a teenager, he said.

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

When DeWine initially announced the positive test result, social media had been buzzing with individuals using the diagnosis as evidence that wearing facemasks and facial coverings do not work. DeWine has received criticism over his orders during the pandemic, particularly those requiring the use of facemasks.

After news of the governor’s initial results broke, Ohio Rep. Nino Vitale, R-85, posted on Facebook a picture of DeWine wearing a mask with the message, “DeWine Tests Positive! I thought masks worked?”

Vitale continued, “While I certainly wish no ill will nor poor health on the governor, I think the question must be asked. Has he not been wearing his mask, or do masks not stop the spread?”

Last month, DeWine ordered residents in all of Ohio’s 88 counties must wear a mask when in public, regardless of the county’s risk level in the Public Health Advisory System. On Aug. 4, he mandated all K-12 students returning to school to wear a mask as well.

DeWine says he’s received a few “not so nice texts” from those questioning the efficacy of wearing masks. If the lesson people take away from his diagnosis is masks do not work, “that would be the wrong lesson,” he said.

“The lesson that should come from this is that we’re all human” and anyone can contract it, even when wearing a mask, he said. While wearing a mask and restricting the number of people you see improves your odds of not contracting the virus, “but that does not mean you won’t get it.”

To that point, DeWine said the state will continue to work to increase its testing capabilities, he said. Currently, the state tests on average 22,000 daily, “but we need to double it, and we need to double it again,” he said.

DeWine has been in talks with Sens. Rob Portman, R, and Sherrod Brown, D, as well as with the White House on what more can be done at the federal level to improve Ohio’s testing capabilities, he said.

The state’s efforts to acquire tests include more conventional tests as well as rapid tests, he said. As the medical community learns more about the virus and what tests are available, it’s a “constant reevaluation of everything,” he said.

“We’ve done everything we can and we’re not stopping until we make sure there’s more testing available,” he said.

Pictured: Gov. Mike DeWine addresses the press via Zoom from the front porch of his Cedarville home.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.