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Utah Senate president tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies

But Stuart Adams says he never knew he had virus

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Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, speaks during a press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 17, 2020, where legislative, community, business and religious leaders announced plans to reactivate Utah’s economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, June 4, 2020, Adams said he tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies but never realized he had the deadly virus.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said Thursday he tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies but never realized he had the deadly virus.

“I was sick at the very first of the legislative session after Sundance, but so were a lot of other people, and I think some of those have actually had COVID. So I have no idea how, what or when I had it,” said Adams, who attended events at the film festival held in Park City in late January that has been described as a “petri dish” for the virus.

Shortly after the 45-day general session ended in mid-March, Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, tested positive for COVID-19. Adams said at that point, he felt “a little tired but you’ve got to feel tired after a legislative session.”

The Senate president said he sought the test two weeks ago, and after receiving the results Monday feels better about wearing a mask in public and advised Utahns to do the same.

“I’ve worn a mask not to protect myself, but to try to protect others,” Adams said. “I would encourage people, even though I know that’s a little controversial, not to wear it to protect them because it doesn’t do a lot for you personally, but if you happen to have it and don’t know you have it, I think you’ll protect others.”

He said he’s in the process of determining if he’s eligible to donate plasma that could be used to treat others fighting the virus and encouraged Utahns who have recovered from the novel coronavirus or have tested positive for its antibodies to see if they can become plasma donors, too.

Everyone on Capitol Hill is now being asked to be tested for antibodies, Adams said. An upcoming special session of the Utah Legislature to cut the state budget in response to the economic impact of the virus will be held virtually, he said, just as recent special sessions have been.

Adams was an early advocate of the using the controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 that President Donald Trump said he’s used as a preventative treatment. However, Adams said he has never taken the drug himself but would have had he known he had the virus.

Last Friday, Adams said he voted along with other members of a legislative advisory commission to recommend that the state move into a “smart green” risk phase that would allow nearly all businesses in the state to reopen while continuing social distancing and other precautious. He said his test results haven’t changed his mind.

“We’re all just really nervous. I still am a little bit. But it seemed like almost a relief because it seemed over. We’re all looking for this to be over,” he said.

“The whole point of ‘smart green’ is to have sustainable policies that can last. We’ve been at it three months. We have to have policies that can last up to 1 1/2 years.”