Utah Senate President Stuart Adams spent the first day of the Utah Legislature’s 2022 general session in person and inconsistently wearing a mask even though he tested positive for COVID-19 twice Tuesday morning.
Confirmation that Adams tested positive twice Tuesday morning only came after Senate staff clarified the test results and after Adams told lawmakers in the Senate chamber he had tested negative, not positive. Adams’ spokeswoman chalked up the inconsistent statements from Adams as “confusion” over “mixed” test results.
Adams first tested positive for COVID-19 after feeling symptoms late Wednesday night. He tested positive Thursday. His spokeswoman, Aundrea Peterson, said he was “following the CDC recommended five-day quarantine period, which will conclude on Monday,” the day before the first day of the session.
So Adams came to work on Tuesday. He didn’t wear a mask while he gave his opening remarks in the Senate chamber, saying he had “just recovered from COVID.”
During his speech, Adams initially said he “tested positive, once yesterday once today,” before minutes later saying he “tested negative twice,” joking that he was making sure people were listening.
Later Tuesday evening, Adams’ chief of staff Mark Thomas told the Deseret News the Senate president actually did test positive — twice — for COVID-19 Tuesday morning.
Asked for clarification, Thomas said he took a COVID-19 test Monday and the results came back negative. Tuesday morning, Adams tested again and it came back positive. He took another test immediately after, and it initially appeared to be negative.
That’s when Thomas said Adams went to the dais in the Senate chambers and made his comments about testing positive then negative. Then, Thomas said a “faint line” appeared on the second test Adams took Tuesday morning, which indicated that he’d tested positive a second time that day.
“It was certainly confusing,” Thomas said.
Adams’ spokeswoman Aundrea Peterson issued a statement Tuesday afternoon stating the Senate president’s COVID-19 test results have been “mixed,” but he’s following CDC guidelines.
“President Adams has followed the CDC guidelines, and his symptoms have subsided, including not having a fever since Saturday,” Peterson said.
“CDC guidelines state that individuals who test positive should isolate for five days and may resume work if fever free for 24 hours. 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.”
CDC guidance does encourage people who have contracted COVID-19 to isolate for five days, “and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), follow that by five days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter.”
Adams did not wear a mask in the Senate chambers, where many other Republican senators also went maskless. He did wear a mask while speaking with reporters in a media availability in Senate offices after morning floor time.
“I feel great today,” Adams told reporters when asked how he was feeling. He sat masked near Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, who was unmasked, and Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, who was wearing a mask.
The CDC’s shortened recommended guideline for isolation time was “motivated by the science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to the onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”