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Staff member in California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office tests positive for coronavirus

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wears a face mask.
A staff member in California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office tested positive for the coronavirus this week but did not interact with the governor or his senior advisors, according to a spokesman.
(Hector Amezcua / Pool Photo)

An intern in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration and another state employee who interacted with members of the governor’s staff have both tested positive for the coronavirus, though neither came in contact with Newsom or his top advisors, the governor and his spokesman said Wednesday.

“We are going through a contact-tracing process led by the Department of Public Health, and they have both been isolated and we are working back from that frame to make sure that everybody is appropriately tested,” Newsom said during a briefing in Winters, Calif., on Wednesday.

The governor’s spokesman, Nathan Click, said that whenever a state employee tests positive for the coronavirus and was in a government office, state policy requires that shared spaces be deep-cleaned — which was done where appropriate in these cases — and that employees who had contact with that person, or with the office, quarantine themselves and seek testing.

Click declined to identify the employees who tested positive or their office locations, citing privacy laws. Newsom identified the governor’s office staff member as an intern and said the other employee worked for a separate state agency. Neither worked in the suite of Capitol offices occupied by Newsom and his senior staff, the governor said.

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The governor’s office was alerted about the state employee Monday and about the governor’s office staff member “earlier this week,” Click said. Once notified, the governor’s office immediately began appropriate protocols such as contact tracing and asking employees to quarantine themselves if they had come in contact with the two people who tested positive.

“We wish both individuals who tested positive well in their recovery,” Click said.

Newsom said Wednesday that he has been tested for the virus on multiple occasions when the circumstances warranted, including when he visited a state prison and when he met with President Trump in Sacramento in mid-September during a briefing on the deadly wildfires in the state.

The last time he was tested was an hour before meeting with the president, and the results were negative, Newsom said. Neither state employee who tested positive attended the event with the president, Click said.

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“I’ve never been tested positive. I’ve been tested negative on multiple times,” Newsom said Wednesday.

Newsom’s comments came almost a week after disclosures that Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, with the president requiring several days of hospitalization with COVID-19 symptoms. The White House is now grappling with an outbreak of the virus among senior advisors to Trump as well as support staff and others who came in contact with those infected.

During a news conference Monday, Newsom took a subtle jab at Trump and others for being dismissive about the use of masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’ll continue to maintain our vigilance. We’ll continue not to send mixed messages as it relates to importance and imperative of wearing masks or minimize the impact of this disease on people’s health, lives that are lost,” Newsom said.

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Click said that the governor’s office has reduced staff levels at the Capitol, where Newsom and his senior advisors work, because of the pandemic and has scrapped most in-person meetings in favor of videoconference calls.


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