COLUMBUS – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said late Thursday afternoon that his positive coronavirus test result was a "big surprise," he feels fine and he'll continue to lead the state while quarantined for the next two weeks.
DeWine took a COVID-19 test as part of the protocol to greet President Donald Trump on the tarmac at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland on Thursday. Trump later toured the Whirlpool plant in Clyde, Ohio, before attending a private fundraiser.
The 73-year-old DeWine, who has had asthma since his teen years, said he had no symptoms of the disease before his test.
"I feel fine, I have a headache," DeWine told reporters. "I get a lot of headaches throughout my life so a headache isn’t anything that unusual."
DeWine received the positive result while in the car. He returned to Columbus where he, First Lady Fran DeWine and staff members were tested for the virus.
"A very good friend of mine just tested positive," Trump said in Cleveland after learning about DeWine's test. "We want to wish him the best."
DeWine said he'll quarantine at his home in Cedarville for the next 14 days – a situation he described as similar to how he's operated during the pandemic.
"I spend most days right here anyway," DeWine said via videoconference from the front porch of his home. "I’m on the phone a lot. I’m on conference calls a lot. So far my work is not going to be impacted."
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted attended the Whirlpool event after testing negative.
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DeWine said he did not know where he might have contracted the virus. He's taken care to wear a mask during outdoor visits with his two daughters and grandchildren who live nearby. Most of DeWine's staff has been working from home since March.
DeWine, a Republican, has for months urged Ohioans to stay home as much as possible, keep distance from others and wear masks. He has conducted his regular press briefings in a separate room from reporters since March 23 and limited the staff in the same room to abide by limits on large gatherings.
DeWine said he received some "not so nice" texts indicating the mask the governor wears and encourages didn't prevent him from testing positive. DeWine said that's the wrong lesson to learn from this.
“The lesson that should come from this is that we’re all human, this virus is everywhere, this virus is very tough, and yes, you can contract it even when you’re being very, very careful and even when you’re wearing a mask,” DeWine said. He added the odds of not spreading the coronavirus are dramatically better if wearing a mask.
DeWine isn't the first governor to test positive for COVID-19. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced he had the disease several weeks ago. Last month, DeWine's state prisons' director, Annette Chambers-Smith, announced she received a positive COVID-19 test result after feeling slight symptoms.
DeWine said he is not tested regularly for the virus. Aside from the two tests taken Thursday, the only other time he was tested was on camera during a June 23 press conference. His test, as well as tests for Fran DeWine and Husted, came back negative the next day.
The White House uses rapid coronavirus tests that deliver results in minutes. White House policy requires everyone to be tested before coming into contact with the president.
On Tuesday, DeWine announced Ohio would soon acquire 500,000 rapid tests as part of a collaboration with five other states.
DeWine said the state continues to work on acquiring more testing supplies: "We need them quicker and we need more of them."