South Carolina's lieutenant governor diagnosed with COVID-19

Photo of Pamela Evette, the 93rd Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina (South Carolina Office of the Governor)

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday, but is recovering in isolation with her family at home, officials said.

Evette had a sore throat and headache Thursday and was tested for the virus. She has stayed at her family's home near Greenville since noting the symptoms, said Brian Symmes, the spokesman for Gov. Henry McMaster.

“She is feeling better now," said Symmes, adding Evette plans to stay out of the public for two weeks.

Evette's positive test prompted McMaster and his wife to get COVID-19 tests, which both came back negative Sunday. It was the fifth negative test since the pandemic began for the governor and the third for his wife, Symmes said.

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Two members of Evette's staff and some of her security detail are also isolating but have not tested positive for COVID-19, Symmes said.

Health officials traced Evette's contacts for two days, including an appearance to thank workers at a suicide prevention hotline in Greenville on Sept. 8.

Evette, 53, and the 73-year-old governor were last together on Sept. 6, as they watched a NASCAR race at Darlington Speedway, Symmes said.

But where the lieutenant governor was infected with the virus will likely never be known, said Brannon Traxler, interim public health director for South Carolina.

“Its almost impossible in these situations to determine where someone was exposed," Traxler said.

South Carolina's rate of COVID-19 infection has dropped significantly since it nearly led the country in July. The state is currently seeing an average of about 870 cases a day, down from the seven-day average peak of nearly 1,950 cases in mid-July.

But since students have returned to schools and colleges, the state has seen the decline in cases stop and begin rising again.

Evette joins a rising number of state officials across the U.S. to get COVID-19. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin St itt announced his positive test in July. Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Saturday he had COVID-19. Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn tested positive in July along with a number of other lawmakers after a legislative session.

Evette released a statement Monday saying her infection shows how easily the virus is spread and asking people to keep wearing masks, social distancing and getting tested if they have any reason to think they might have COVID-19.

“I’m fortunate to have had only mild symptoms and I’m already feeling much better. David has taken GREAT care of me!” Evette wrote on social media, thanking her husband for his help.