COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Governor Mike DeWine is among the Ohioans at greatest risk of severe complications from COVID-19 after testing positive for the virus on Thursday.
Before a scheduled meeting with President Donald Trump in Cleveland, DeWine tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the second American governor to do so during the pandemic. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, also a Republican, tested positive in mid-July.
DeWine, at 73 years old, is the second-oldest governor in the U.S., behind Alabama’s 75-year-old governor Kay Ivey. He is also at a greater risk of health complications because of his age.
The Ohio Department of Health categorizes COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations by eight age groups in mostly 10-year increments. DeWine falls into the 70-79 category, which ranks second in deaths and hospitalizations.
Nearly 1 in 4 Ohio coronavirus deaths and 1 in 5 hospitalizations have been people in the governor’s age group. Only about 7 percent of Ohio cases, however, have been in people aged 70-79, meaning the virus kills more than 1 in 8 of the Ohioans in that age group who test positive.
A number of medical conditions can also put people with COVID-19 at increased risk of severe complications and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These “comorbidities” include heart disease, diabetes and COPD.
DeWine has been open in the past about his struggles with vertigo, a condition that causes a person to feel as if their surroundings are spinning. Vertigo, however, has only been scientifically observed as a symptom of COVID-19, not a comorbidity.
The governor’s office said Thursday that First Lady Fran DeWine, also in her 70s, will be tested for the virus while the couple stays at their home in Cedarville.
Speaking exclusively to NBC4 upon his arrival to the governor’s mansion in Bexley Thursday afternoon, DeWine said he feels good and that his positive test was “a big surprise” because “we’re not around hardly anybody.”