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Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. tests positive for COVID-19

Jon Huntsman Jr., who is running again to be governor of Utah, says he will isolate himself while his campaign continues.
(Los Angeles Times)

Republican Utah gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. said Wednesday he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Huntsman who has previously served as Utah’s chief executive and as U.S. ambassador to both China and Russia, said he is experiencing “classic symptoms” of the illness caused by the coronavirus and will isolate himself while his campaign continues.

“Like so many others, my goal is to keep my family safe,” he said in a tweet. “Though isolated temporarily, we’ve never been more energized in this important race for governor. The work goes on!”

The news comes after a staffer in his office tested positive last week.

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Huntsman is one of four Republican gubernatorial candidates on the June 30 primary ballot. He previously served as Utah’s governor from 2005 to 2009.

His positive test came after an initial incorrect negative result from the Salt Lake County Health Department. A second test came back positive.

Primary ballots began going out this week in the election being conducted entirely by mail due to the pandemic. It’s the first wide-open governor’s race in Utah in more than a decade.

Huntsman went into quarantine last week and canceled all of his public appearances after learning of the staff member’s positive test.

He attended a campaign event in the small northern Utah city of Logan shortly before getting the news. It was held outside to allow for social distancing practices, though a number of people there did not wear masks, the Herald Journal newspaper reported. A photo shows Huntsman shaking hands with an attendee, neither wearing a mask.

The number of coronavirus cases has been trending upward in Utah as the state moves toward reopening the economy under pressure from conservatives who cite the heavy economic toll of business shutdowns aimed at stopping the spread.

His running mate, Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi, was cleared to continue campaigning in person last week.

His daughter Abby Huntsman left her role as a host on the TV show “The View ”to join the campaign. It was not immediately clear if she had been affected by the virus.

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The family is among the most well-known in Utah. Jon Huntsman Sr. was a billionaire businessman and philanthropist.

Neither the infected staffer nor their position has been identified. Campaign headquarters was closed for cleaning last week and and later reopened.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

His other opponents include former state House Speaker Greg Hughes and former GOP chair Thomas Wright.


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