Gov. Mike DeWine's second COVID-19 test comes back negative Thursday night

Antigen test showed false positive, but widely-used PCR showed negative
Posted at 12:31 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 10:17:41-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's second coronavirus test has come back negative, his office confirmed Thursday night.

First Lady Fran DeWine and staff members have also all tested negative.

The DeWines took a PCR test, as did members of the governor's staff, this afternoon. PCR tests are "known to be extremely sensitive, as well as specific, for the virus," a statement from the governor's office read. Each test was run two times, coming back negative both times.

"We feel confident in the results from Wexner Medical Center," the statement read. "This is the same PCR test that has been used over 1.6 million times in Ohio by hospitals and labs all over the state."

The test DeWine took this morning in Cleveland ahead of a meeting with President Donald Trump was a rapid-result antigen test.

"These tests represent an exciting new technology to reduce the cost and improve the turnaround time for COVID-19 testing, but they are quite new, and we do not have much experience with them 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 statement read.

Out of an abundance of caution and at the direction of medical professionals, the DeWines plan to take another PCR test on Saturday and release those results as well.

Speaking from the front porch of his Cedarville, Ohio, home Thursday afternoon, DeWine told reporters via video conference he was "feeling fine" after his office confirmed the first positive test result. At the time, DeWine said he had "no idea" where he may have come into contact with the virus.

“A big surprise to me, and certainly a big surprise to my family," DeWine said of the test result.

DeWine added that his apparent diagnosis had not changed his views on the effectiveness of wearing face masks around other people.

“We know it (works). If people take that lesson from the fact that I apparently have it, that would be the wrong lesson. It would be very very sad … The lesson is we’re all human. This virus is everywhere, this virus is very tough, and yes, you can contract it even if you’re very careful,” he said.

He also called for more federal help for widespread testing as Ohio continues to conduct an average of 22,000 coronavirus tests per day.

“We’ve done everything we can -- and we’re not stopping -- to make more tests available,” DeWine said.

Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore questioned the sensitivity level of DeWine's initial test Thursday, before the second PCR results came back in the evening.

"You have to understand that. What type of test is he taking now? Is it the PCR COVID testing?” Moore asked.

She echoed the governor’s thoughts on wearing a mask in public and gave a bit of guidance for those who question their effectiveness.

“Think about where you’re going. Do you really need to go out of a necessity or is it just out of a desire? Even at the ‘orange’ level, we’re still at a public health emergency,” Moore said.

Hamilton County’s own response to the virus has improved, moving from “red” to “orange” in Ohio’s Public Health Advisory system Thursday.

“We know that 80% of the population, community, people wear masks consistently as they should. We know there’s a likelihood of a reduction of positive cases,” Moore said.

DeWine said he spoke to President Trump today by phone about ways to do that, including possible “pool testing” to stretch out kits. The rapid test he took today was provided by the White House, and that’s the only rapid test he took.

Trump told people gathered at the Cleveland airport that DeWine had tested positive.

"Governor of Ohio DeWine just tested positive, just here. And we want to wish him the best. He’ll be fine. I guess he’s going for a secondary test. I just said, ‘I look forward to seeing the governor.’ They said, ‘Sir, he just tested positive,'" Trump said.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted also took the COVID-19 test Thursday. He tested negative.

Several lawmakers had expressed support for DeWine following news of his positive coronavirus test, including U.S. Senator Rob Portman and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley.

“We are hopeful that he will continue to have no symptoms and send our best wishes for a speedy recovery," Portman said in a statement. "I spoke with him yesterday about the ongoing COVID-19 response at the federal and state level and I’m certain he’ll continue to lead a strong and safe reopening of Ohio while following the proper protocols and quarantining at home in Cedarville. I hope everyone will support his recovery by continuing to do their part to slow the spread by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. I will continue to work closely with him to support our health care system, our schools, our local governments, our employers, and all Ohio families during the ongoing pandemic.”

"Dena & I are praying for Mike & Fran DeWine following the news of his positive test for COVID-19," wrote Cranley on Twitter. "We know he’s in great health & expect a full & speedy recovery. Please let this be a reminder that anyone can catch the virus. It is critical now more than ever to wear a mask."