U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine on Thursday said that he and his wife recently tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
The Democratic senator said he's using the announcement to urge people to follow federal guidelines as the country continues to work to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“I think the reason we wanted to be public was to say, ‘Thank goodness, our cases were mild’ and ‘We're feeling better,’” Kaine said to reporters on Thursday. “But you got to be careful about this because it can present in unexpected ways, and just because you had it you can't assume ‘Oh great, I have antibodies, so I'm protected now.’ The research that's being done into antibodies and what they actually give you is still very murky.”
Kaine said it’s unclear how effective coronavirus antibodies are. Immunity can last either for decades or just months. He said right now the best advice is to continue following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, which include social distancing of six feet or more, frequent hand-washing and covering your mouth when you cough.
Kaine said his coronavirus story started with an official flu diagnosis earlier this year. At the end of March, Kaine said he experienced new symptoms and a reaction to an unusually high spring pollen count.
Anne Holton, Kaine's wife and the interim president at George Mason University, then had a short stint with a fever and chills followed by congestion and a cough, the senator said.
Kaine said he and his wife remained at home in Richmond isolated from others. The two did not take a test due to the nationwide shortage. By mid-April, the couple was free of symptoms.
“We each tested positive for coronavirus antibodies this month,” Sen. Kaine said. “While those antibodies could make us less likely to be re-infected or infect others, there is still too much uncertainty over what protection antibodies may actually provide. So we will keep following CDC guidelines—hand-washing, mask wearing, social distancing. We encourage others to do so as well. It shows those around you that you care about them.”
In Virginia, state officials are still working to increase testing capacity, although testing has increased significantly in recent weeks. Virginia’s population is around 8.5 million. Statewide, 285,273 people have been tested since the first coronavirus case on March 7.
The commonwealth's number of coronavirus cases on Thursday jumped by 1,152 to 41,401 cases. There have been 1,338 deaths and 4,442 hospitalizations.