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Cooper tested negative for COVID-19 last month, office says

October 7, 2020 GMT
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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper removes his mask before speaking during a briefing on North Carolina's coronavirus pandemic response Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, at the NC Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C. (Casey Toth/The News & Observer via AP)
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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper removes his mask before speaking during a briefing on North Carolina's coronavirus pandemic response Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, at the NC Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C. (Casey Toth/The News & Observer via AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper tested negative for the coronavirus last month and has never had a positive result, his office confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

“The governor has never tested positive for COVID-19,” said a statement from Dory MacMillan, a spokeswoman for Cooper. “He most recently received a test in the middle of last month after a family member had a fever, and the tests for the governor and family were negative.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has committed to publicly sharing all his future coronavirus test results. MacMillan said Cooper will “publicly confirm future test results” and “continue to get tested in accordance with state health guidance.”

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The governor’s Republican challenger, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, said Monday on Twitter that he “tested negative a few days ago ahead of my mother visiting.”

Forest said he wanted to spend time with his family over the past weekend ahead of a final 30-day push to the Nov. 3 general election. He also urged reporters to question Cooper’s health, claiming the governor has spent “the past 207 days in hiding” at the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh.

Cooper went 16 days without a news conference in September — the longest gap between press conferences since the start of the pandemic.

Wednesday’s confirmation of a negative test result comes as the Democratic governor sharpens his criticism of President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and his decision to return to the White House shortly after testing positive for COVID-19. Cooper slammed Trump for holding a mass, largely maskless gathering at the White House on Sept. 26 announcing the nomination of federal judge Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court.

“When you have gatherings where people are not wearing masks, people are not social distancing, you can see what happens when those things occur, even with testing going on,” Cooper told reporters during a virtual news conference Tuesday. “It’s really not safe to have those large gatherings with people so close together and most people not wearing masks. That’s just the wrong signal to be sending.”

On Monday, Trump returned to the White House despite concerns he could still transmit the virus to White House staff members. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, adviser Hope Hicks, senior adviser Stephen Miller and others have tested positive for the coronavirus over the past week.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid,” Trump tweeted on Monday announcing his departure from Walter Reed Medical Center. “Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

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Cooper suggested Trump has presented a false choice between promoting public safety and the economy.

“We want to boost our economy. We want to get our children back into the classroom,” Cooper said. “And you don’t do that by pretending that the pandemic doesn’t exist, and you don’t do it by acting like it’s not gonna hurt anybody.”

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Follow Anderson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BryanRAnderson.

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Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.