RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that he and his wife have both tested positive for the coronavirus, though he said he is showing no symptoms.
He’s among four governors around the country who have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, but one of the others turned out to be a false positive.
Northam and his wife, who has mild symptoms, plan to isolate for the next 10 days and the governor will fulfill his duties while working remotely, according to a statement from his office.
The Democrat, the country’s only governor who is also a doctor, has previously been criticized by some Republican lawmakers who say his restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus are too stringent.
Northam said in a statement that his test result shows that the virus is “very real and very contagious.”
“We are grateful for your thoughts and support, but the best thing you can do for us — and most importantly, for your fellow Virginians — is to take this seriously,” Northam said.
Both the governor and first lady Pam Northam have kept a full schedule recently. On Tuesday, the governor made public appearances at events in Hampton and Fairfax, while the first lady went on several “back to school” tours. The governor and his wife are working with state and local health officials to trace their close contacts, Northam’s office said.
The Northams usually wear masks in public, and the governor has issued a statewide mask mandate.
The governor and first lady were notified Wednesday that a member of the Executive Mansion staff developed COVID-19 symptoms and that the staff member’s virus test came back positive. The staff member worked in the couple’s living quarters.
The Executive Mansion and a nearby state office building were closed Friday morning for a deep cleaning.
Three other governors also have tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier this week, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican who has steadfastly refused to require residents to wear masks, announced he’d tested positive. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt in July became the first governor to announce he’d tested positive. He recovered and returned to work less than two weeks later.
In August, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that a rapid test was positive. But a short time later, DeWine said a more sensitive test was negative.
Northam’s announcement comes on the same day as a planned rally by President Donald Trump in Newport News, an event the governor’s staff has asked to be canceled, re-scheduled or scaled down because of concerns about the virus. The rally is expected to draw 4,000 people, which would violate Northam’s executive order generally banning gatherings of more than 250 people. The Trump campaign has routinely flouted public health guidelines intended to halt the spread of COVID-19 with its events.