The Republican governor of Oklahoma announced that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
In a statement on Wednesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt said he received the results the previous afternoon shortly after attending a meeting along with more than 20 other individuals, according to the Associated Press.
Stitt said he was “shocked” to learn he had become the first U.S. governor to test positive for the virus, which has so far infected more than 3 million Americans and caused an estimated death toll approaching 138,000, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University.
“I”ll be working from home”
Officials confirmed that contact tracers are currently working to identify those who came within six feet of Stitt for more than 15 minutes — a list that reportedly includes several fellow politicians.
Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell and Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur attended the governor’s meeting on Tuesday, and Pinnell said he would self-isolate as a precautionary measure.
Additionally, a restaurant Stitt visited last week announced it would temporarily close while all staff members are tested and the facility receives a deep cleaning.
“I’ll be taking precautions,” the governor said of his immediate plans, according to USA Today. “I’ll be isolated away from my family. I’ll be working from home.
“A big can of worms”
Stitt received some criticism for attended President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa last month without wearing a mask. After testing positive, he has continued to push back against demands that he institute a statewide order mandating face coverings in public.
“We respect people’s rights…to not wear a mask,” he said during this week’s virtual news conference, according to the AP. “You just open up a big can of worms.”
Oklahoma saw its first day with over 1,000 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, one day after registering 993 cases. Four additional deaths attributed to the virus were added to the toll on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 432, the AP reported.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said hospitalizations across the state have also increased over the past week, but he noted that hospitals are not yet approaching capacity.
Fortunately, the governor has so far been asymptomatic, and his immediate family has tested negative. Considering the political tone this pandemic has taken over the past several months, however, Stitt is sure to face continued criticism even as he isolates.