By Farnoush Amiri and Dan Sewell, The Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tested positive Thursday for the coronavirus just ahead a planned meeting with President Donald Trump.
The Republican governor’s office said Thursday that he took the test as part of standard protocol before meeting Trump at an airport in Cleveland. He had planned to join the president on a visit to the Whirlpool Corp. plant in northwest Ohio.
His office said the 73-year-old DeWine had no symptoms, but was returning to Columbus. His office said he and his wife, Fran DeWine, will both be tested there. DeWine then plans to quarantine at his home in Cedarville for 14 days.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (HYOOS’-ted) tested negative. DeWine, in his first term as governor, is one of Ohio’s most familiar politicians, previously serving as a U.S. congressman, two-term U.S. senator, Ohio attorney general and lieutenant governor.
DeWine becomes the second U.S. governor to test positive for coronavirus after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced he contracted the virus last month. In recent weeks, DeWine has pleaded with Ohioans to take personal responsibility over the virus’ spread across the state. He avoided a statewide mask mandate until July 23 when the number of daily cases in the state began to push over 1,000.
DeWine’s first try at a statewide requirement for wearing masks inside businesses — back in April — drew backlash that led him to rescind that directive the following day, a stutter among the aggressive moves that had won him early praise in his efforts to curb the virus.
Mask-wearing also has been a point of contention at the Statehouse, where many Democratic lawmakers have donned masks while many Republican lawmakers have not. DeWine has often found himself at odds with members of his own party on the policy.
DeWine’s key health adviser during the pandemic, Dr. Amy Action, left government this week. In the early months, she joined DeWine at daily briefings and was a popular figure. However, backlash against state restrictions helped lead to a protest at her home and her decision to step away from the public spotlight.
DeWine gave a public update Tuesday on the coronavirus in Ohio, but had postponed a regular one Thursday because of the president’s visit.
In at least two briefings, DeWine has shared with the public how the virus has taken the lives of several friends, urging them to think about their loved ones, especially grandparents, when leaving the house and not following social-distancing protocols. The first-term governor has 23 grandchildren.
Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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