Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on Wednesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, weeks after attending a campaign rally for President Trump in Tulsa.
During a remote press conference, Stitt said he had tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday afternoon. The Republican is the first governor in the United States to announce a positive test.
“I feel fine,” Stitt said. “I felt a little bit achy yesterday. I did not have a fever.”
He said he is working with contact tracers and will keep working from home in isolation. His wife and children have tested negative, he said.
Stitt attended Trump’s controversial campaign rally in Tulsa on June 20. Health officials there said the rally “more than likely” contributed to a surge in coronavirus cases.
“The past two days we’ve had almost 500 cases, and we know we had several large events a little over two weeks ago, which is about right,” Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart said on July 9. “So I guess we just connect the dots.”
At least eight Trump campaign staffers who attended the rally in Tulsa later tested positive for the coronavirus, according to CNN.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt at President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
On the eve of the rally, Stitt downplayed concerns about holding the event amid the pandemic.
“We have been safely reopening,” he said during an interview with Fox News on June 16. “We were one of the first states to start reopening. So, we’re 57 days into our reopening campaign, and we feel like it’s the right time to start reopening. So we’re excited about the president coming.”
Stitt, who did not wear a mask at the rally, said Wednesday that he does not believe his exposure came from the event. He also said he would not have been contagious before this past Saturday, but it’s unclear how he would know that.
On Tuesday, Oklahoma reported 993 new coronavirus cases, its highest single-day tally since the pandemic began. Overall, the state has had more than 21,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 428 deaths.
“We need to take this virus very seriously,” Stitt said. “We need to come together and make sure each one of us is doing the best we can to slow the spread.”
Many states have mandated that people wear face coverings to stop the spread of the virus when social distancing is not possible. Concern over rising cases and deaths recently prompted the governors of Alabama, Kentucky and Louisiana to join more than a dozen other states that have some form of a statewide mask mandate.
But Stitt said that Oklahoma won’t be one of them.
“I’m not thinking about a mask mandate at all,” he said, adding: “I’m hesitant to mandate something that is problematic to enforce.”
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