South Carolina governor tests positive for COVID-19 after wife's diagnosis

South Carolina governor tests positive for COVID-19 after wife's diagnosis
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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) tested positive for COVID-19 late Monday, just days after his wife was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The South Carolina governor announced his positive test result on Tuesday, saying he received it during “routine testing due to coming into close contact with the COVID-19 virus.” McMaster said he plans to isolate for the next 10 days in accordance with federal and state guidelines.

McMaster has developed “mild symptoms” including a cough and slight fatigue, his office said. He is scheduled to receive the monoclonal antibody treatment Tuesday as a preventative measure.

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Peggy McMaster, the governor's wife, tested positive on Friday. She remains asymptomatic.

The governor’s office said both “remain in good spirits,” and the governor is working from their residence.

“Peggy and I urge everyone to be extra careful during the Christmas holiday season,” the governor said in a statement. “This virus spreads very easily.”

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control physicians said there is “no way to pinpoint precisely when or how” the McMasters caught the virus.

Both tested negative before attending a White House Christmas party on Dec. 14. Brian Symmes, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, told The State on Friday that while at the party, the couple wore “a face covering when it was necessary and when social distancing wasn’t possible.”

State officials determined that the governor had no close contacts in the 48-hour period ahead of his positive test as he had already isolated himself due to his wife’s diagnosis, which was announced over the weekend.

The governor's office announcement of Peggy McMaster’s diagnosis noted that the governor tested negative for the virus last Thursday, a day before his wife's positive test results. At the time, he committed to quarantining for seven days and received regular testing. 

The McMasters are both 73 years old, meaning they are part of the population at higher risk for hospitalization due to the virus.

South Carolina Senate Democrats have been pushing the governor to institute a mask mandate. Last week, they requested for a 60-day mask mandate to stop the current surge, according to The State.

The state has experienced a rapid spike in cases in December, reaching its highest daily number of confirmed cases last Friday with 4,302, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

In total, South Carolina has reported 255,210 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 20,523 probable cases since the start of the pandemic, according to state data. The state has seen 4,587 confirmed deaths and 375 probable deaths related to coronavirus.

Henry McMaster joins at least six other governors who have contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic, including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R), Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R), Colorado Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisColorado loosens restrictions on antibody treatment, holds off on mask mandate Lobbying world Overnight Health Care — Presented by Emergent Biosolutions — Pfizer seeks authorization for antiviral pill MORE (D) and Nevada Gov Steve SisolakSteve SisolakFirst openly transgender Miss USA contestant eliminated before round of 16 Nevada lawmakers approve maps giving edge to Democrats America's clean energy future cannot stop at state lines MORE (D).

--Updated at 2:14 p.m.