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Confusion over Senate President’s COVID-19 status

Jan 19, 2022, 9:29 AM | Updated: 11:54 am
COVID-19 test senate...
Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, speaks during the first day of the legislative session at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Adams did not wear a mask, Despite testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday last week. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Stuart Adams, the president of the Utah State Senate, opened yesterday’s legislative session yesterday saying he’d tested negative for COVID-19. However, his COVID-19 tests did not actually yield this result.

Adams tested positive last week. His staff said he was followed guidelines from the CDC that instruct someone without symptoms can come back to work five days after their positive test.

CDC advised this on the basis that after five days and with no symptoms, someone who previously tested positive for COVID-19 is no longer contagious. 

However, Adams’ remarks caused some confusion. Reporters learned that one of the tests he took yesterday was positive and the other was inconclusive.

Misinformation about COVID-19 test results, or a mistake

Mark Thomas, the Senate Chief of Staff, says a faint line appeared on the test strip for the second test after the standard 15-minute waiting period for results.

Thomas was asked by KSL NewsRadio’s Lindsay Aerts whether he believed the tests were negative when he went on the floor.

“He did the second one and he waited long enough and it was negative, so he left,” Thomas said. 

“The legislature being what it is,” Thomas said, “everything kinda gets out quickly. So before he had a chance to understand what was happening, it had kind of become a thing by that point.”

Thomas went on to say, “We’re not trying to hide anything. We’re not playing coy. We’re not playing games. This was just kind of in the middle of everything and he got on the floor quickly and just trying to manage this.”

A positive COVID-19 test does not indicate contagiousness

Later in the day, Adams’ spokesperson, Aundrea Peterson, issued a statement saying the Senate president had not had a fever since Saturday.

“CDC guidelines state that individuals who test positive should isolate for five days and may resume work if fever free for 24 hours,” Peterson said.

President Adams took COVID-19 tests and had mixed results, which may have caused confusion. It’s not uncommon to test positive days after contracting COVID-19, and according to the CDC, a positive test after recently recovering from COVID-19 does not mean the individual is contagious.

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Confusion over Senate President’s COVID-19 status