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Gov. Ralph Northam, first lady test positive for COVID-19

Gov. Ralph Northam, first lady test positive for COVID-19

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Gov. Ralph Northam and first lady Pam Northam in 2018.

Gov. Ralph Northam and first lady Pam Northam have both tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the couple to isolate for the next several days.

The Northams took COVID-19 nasal swab tests Thursday afternoon after a member of the Executive Mansion staff developed symptoms and tested positive on Wednesday evening, according to a news release.

The employee, who worked closely within the couple’s living quarters, began developing symptoms.

The governor, 61, is not exhibiting any symptoms while Pam Northam is experiencing mild symptoms. “Both remain in good spirits,” according to a statement.

“As I’ve been reminding Virginians throughout this crisis, COVID-19 is very real and very contagious,” the governor said in a statement. “The safety and health of our staff and close contacts is of utmost importance to Pam and me, and we are working closely with the Department of Health to ensure that everyone is well taken care of. 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.”

The Northams are often spotted wearing masks in public.

The Northams were both traveling around the state this week. The first lady has been visiting schools to mark the start of the school year. The governor was in Northern Virginia and Hampton to make economic development and higher education announcements.

The Northams are working with the Virginia Department of Health to trace their contacts. They will isolate for the next 10 days and evaluate their symptoms.

The governor’s office said he will continue to remain in contact with his cabinet and staff to fulfill his duties as governor from the Executive Mansion.

The Executive Mansion and nearby Patrick Henry office building will be closed for cleaning Friday.

Northam, a Democrat, is the only governor who is also a doctor, and in that role, he’s served as an authority on taking precautions in daily life to prevent the spread of the disease. He’s made numerous decisions that he’s faced criticism for, such as shutting down schools at the onset of the outbreak, placing restrictions on businesses, mandating facial coverings, and limiting how many people can gather in one place.

A few other governors have tested positive for COVID-19. This week Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, and his wife tested positive for coronavirus. In July, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, became the first U.S. governor to announce he had tested positive for the virus.

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