As the number of coronavirus infections nationwide continues to climb, several public figures have served as recognizable faces of the pandemic.
This week, Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam revealed that he and his wife tested positive for the virus just days earlier, as reported by The Blaze.
“Very real and very contagious”
In a statement released on Friday, Northam used to opportunity to reiterate the importance of treating COVID-19 as a serious threat.
“As I’ve been reminding Virginians throughout this crisis, COVID-19 is very real and very contagious,” the governor said, noting that both he and his wife, Pam, are “working closely with the Department of Health to ensure that everyone is well taken care of.”
The governor has thus far been asymptomatic while the first lady has been “experiencing mild symptoms,” the statement noted. Their residence and adjacent office building were “closed for deep cleaning” in response to the news.
Northam expressed appreciation for the well wishes of his constituents and stated that his office would continue operating remotely.
“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,” he declared.
“Not unnecessarily put at risk”
Wednesday’s diagnosis marked the fourth among U.S. governors overall, according to the Associated Press. The first three, Oklahoma’s Kevin Stitt, Missouri’s Mike Parson, and Ohio’s Mike DeWine, were all Republicans. Although Northam said he and his wife were not sure how they contracted the virus, they had begun attempting to trace their contacts.
As several governors experience the impact of COVID-19 firsthand, others are facing increased scrutiny over their policies in the early days of the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Justice announced late last month that statewide directives in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan were under review.
Specifically, the Democratic governors of those states have come under fire for directing nursing homes to admit patients even if they had tested positive for the virus.
“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, who heads the department’s civil rights division. “We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”
While some elected officials might try to play politics with the ongoing public health crisis, each of these cases reveals the real-world impact of their positions and policies.