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FSU President, Wife Test Positive For COVID-19

Florida State University President John Thrasher
Florida State University President John Thrasher

TALLAHASSEE --- After months of leading efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus on campus, Florida State University President John Thrasher and his wife, Jean, have tested positive for COVID-19, the university announced Tuesday.

John Thrasher received his positive result at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, and his wife received her diagnosis Monday night after a recent stay at a hospital and a rehabilitation center for an unrelated condition.

“I wanted to share with the FSU family that First Lady Jean Thrasher and I have tested positive for COVID-19,” the president said in a tweet after the announcement. “I’m working from home as we both isolate. We are feeling well at this time and truly appreciate everyone’s support and well wishes!”

John Thrasher, 76, has led the university through a difficult time this year as it closed the campus in March to try to prevent the spread of the virus and then painstakingly made plans to reopen in August. On Sept. 18, Thrasher issued what he called an “urgent call to action” to students to take precautions and threatened disciplinary action for non-compliance with coronavirus safety guidelines.

“I am proud and appreciative of all of you who are wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and showing respect to your fellow FSU family members, but the actions of some are jeopardizing the health and safety of our entire community,” he said at the time. “Let me be clear --- these behaviors are hindering our ability to continue the in-person experience this fall and the traditions we all cherish.”

The announcement Tuesday said the president has been regularly tested for the virus and tested negative as recently as Friday. He attended a Florida State football game Saturday and took precautions. The announcement also said he has limited in-person meetings during the pandemic, primarily holding meetings online and using social media.

University and public-health officials have started conducting contact tracing of people who might have been in close contact with the couple. The announcement said some members of the president’s staff were tested Tuesday and received negative results.

From Aug. 2 through Saturday, Florida State had 1,500 students and 32 employees test positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, according to statistics posted on the university website. From Sept. 27 through Saturday, the most recent weekly data available, 52 students and one employee tested positive --- with a positivity rate of 2.02 percent of the overall number of people tested.

Thrasher, who has served as president since 2014, recently announced plans to retire, and a search committee is beginning the process to find a replacement. Thrasher, an FSU alum who is an attorney, became president after a political career that included serving as state House speaker, state senator and chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

The announcement Tuesday of the positive test results came after reports Monday that legendary retired Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

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