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After second test, Ohio Gov. DeWine says he's negative for COVID-19

DeWine had tested positive before he was scheduled to greet President Donald Trump. His office said a second test was negative. He will be tested again.
Image: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and his wife Fran, walk into their residence in Bexley, Ohio on Aug. 6, 2020.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and his wife Fran, walk into their residence after he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day, in Bexley, Ohio on Aug. 6, 2020.Jay LaPrete / AP

WASHINGTON — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has tested negative for the coronavirus disease COVID-19 after an earlier test came back positive and scrapped a scheduled meeting with the president Thursday, the governor's office said Thursday night.

"In a second COVID-19 test administered today in Columbus, Governor Mike DeWine has tested negative for COVID-19," a tweet from DeWine's Twitter account posted shortly after 9:30 p.m. read.

"First Lady Fran DeWine and staff members have also all tested negative," the statement said.

The later test was a PCR test, which detects tiny bits of the virus' genetic material, DeWine's office said. The office said that DeWine and his wife will have a second test Saturday out of an abundance of caution and that those results would also be released publicly.

The first test that came back positive was an antigen test, DeWine's office said. Antigen tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus, according to the FDA.

"We do not have much experience with antigen tests here in Ohio. We will be working with the manufacturer to have a better understanding of how the discrepancy between these two tests could have occurred," the governor's office said.

DeWine tested positive ahead of a scheduled meeting with Trump in Cleveland.

The governor's office said that test was taken "as part of the standard protocol to greet President Donald Trump on the tarmac at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland."

DeWine told reporters in a remote press conference that the positive result was "a big, a big surprise."

"I feel fine. I have a headache. But I get a lot of headaches," he said.

His diagnosis was first revealed around the same time that Trump took off on Air Force One from Joint Base Andrews near Washington.

DeWine, 73, said Thursday that he had a second test on his way home with his wife.

The Republican governor's office had said he "plans to follow protocol for COVID-19 and quarantine at his home in Cedarville for the next 14 days," adding that Lt. Gov. Jon Husted also took the COVID-19 test as part of the protocol to greet the president and tested negative.

DeWine, an early advocate of face coverings, has been widely hailed for his response to the pandemic. Asked how he thought he'd contracted the virus, he said he didn't know. "We’re very, very careful with who we see," and wear masks, he said.

He also addressed critics on social media who said his positive test shows that masks don't work.

"The lesson that should come from this is that we’re all human, this virus is everywhere, this virus is very tough," DeWine said earlier Thursday. "And yes — you can contract it even when you're being very, very careful and even when you're wearing a mask."

DeWine said that "your odds are just dramatically better" if wearing a mask.

Trump responded to the news after arriving in Ohio later Thursday, saying that, "we wanted to wish him the best. He will be fine."

He added that DeWine has "done a fantastic job."

Trump delivered remarks on economic prosperity from Cleveland in the afternoon, toured the Whirlpool Corp. manufacturing plant in the town of Clyde and participated in a fundraising committee reception in the village of Bratenahl.

A few weeks ago, the White House coronavirus task force warned that the number of COVID-19 cases in Ohio were significantly increasing. So far, there have been more than 96,000 positive cases and nearly 3,600 coronavirus deaths in the state.

Last month, DeWine issued a travel warning for people entering Ohio from certain states and a statewide mask order that requires people to wear face coverings in public, exempting children under age 10, along with some other exceptions.

DeWine is the second governor to test positive for coronavirus, after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, also a Republican, tested positive for the virus in mid-July.

Late last month, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, who had refused to wear a mask, tested positive for the coronavirus before he was expected to travel with Trump to Texas. Multiple lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus since the outbreak hit the U.S. earlier this year.