Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, announced the diagnosis on Friday.
“As I’ve been reminding Virginians throughout this crisis, COVID-19 is very real and very contagious,” the governor said in a statement.
“The safety and health of our staff and close contacts is of utmost importance to Pam and me, and we are working closely with the Department of Health to ensure that everyone is well taken care of. We are grateful for your thoughts and support, but the best thing you can do for us—and most importantly, for your fellow Virginians—is to take this seriously.”
Northam, 61, was told late Wednesday that a member of his staff, who works closely within the family’s living quarters, had developed symptoms of the new disease before testing positive.
Northam and his wife, Pamela Northam, were tested Thursday. They tested positive.
Northam is experiencing no symptoms while his wife is dealing with mild symptoms, the governor’s office said. “Both remain in good spirits,” it added.
The couple will isolate for 10 days but Northam will continue working.
Virginia’s Department of Health is working with the governor to trace people who came into contact with him and his wife. In addition, the Executive Mansion and the Patrick Henry office building was closed Friday to allow for a deep cleaning.
COVID-19 severely affects a small percentage of patients, and can cause death. The CCP virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, primarily causes severe illness in the elderly and otherwise infirm.
Symptoms include chills, loss of taste and smell, and fever.
The vast majority of patients recover with rest, symptom treatment, or hospital care.
A significant percentage of patients experience few or no symptoms, according to health officials.
The virus is believed to primarily spread when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk, emitting droplets that can land in the mouth or nose of others nearby, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Only three other governors have tested positive for COVID-19.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, tested positive this week, as did his wife, Teresa.
“I want everybody to know that myself and the first lady are both fine,” Parson said in a video posted on Facebook. “Right now I feel fine. No symptoms of any kind. But right now we just have to take the quarantine procedures in place.”
Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tested positive initially for the new disease but later tested negative three times, illustrating the finicky nature of some COVID-19 tests.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, tested positive for COVID-19 over the summer.