RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has tested positive for coronavirus, his office announced Wednesday.
The mayor was informed of his positive test results Tuesday morning after getting a PCR test Monday when he was experiencing mild symptoms. Stoney’s press secretary Jim Nolan tells 8News that the mayor is “not feeling great” and any relevant updates on his status will be shared with the public.
“Since the coronavirus first started to spread in our region roughly a year ago, over 12,000 residents in our city have been infected with COVID-19. Today, I count myself as one of them,” the mayor said in a release. “While I do not feel 100 percent, I am thankful that my symptoms are currently manageable and will continue to work from my home to ensure the continuity of city government.”
The mayor said he’s following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and will now isolate at home. People who have been in close contact with the mayor are in quarantine. The Richmond City Health District is handling the contact tracing for Stoney’s case. Nolan says the mayor’s office staff has not been advised to isolate. He did not share what symptoms the mayor is currently experiencing.
“As my personal experience should tell you, while there is reason to be hopeful due to the distribution of the vaccine, this pandemic is still far from over and must be taken seriously,” the mayor said.
According to Dr. Melissa Viray, Stoney has not yet been considered for a COVID-19 vaccination. He falls under Phase 1b of Virginia’s vaccination plan as an official needed to “maintain continuity of government” but the Richmond Henrico Health District is not vaccinating that tier of essential workers yet. Currently vaccines are only available for people over the age of 65, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, police officers, school staff and childcare workers.
Stoney has expressed support for the vaccine in the past and Viray says he has been very careful throughout the pandemic.
“The fact that we have not seen infection in the mayor before speaks to how careful he has been to this point,” Viray said. “There is just a lot of infection out there in the community.” She says that instances like this are a reminder that you can never fully eliminate your risk for contracting the virus.
Mayor Stoney had his annual State of the City address scheduled for tomorrow. The address has been postponed and will now virtually take place on Thursday, Feb. 11.
Though the mayor’s symptoms are “manageable” right now, the virus is clearly proven deadly. The city code does not say anything about incapacity of the mayor. 8News could not find anything written into the state code, either. However, the assumption is that Richmond’s administrator would run the city if the mayor weren’t able to perform his duties, according to 8News political analyst Rich Meagher. The interim city administrator in Richmond is currently Lincoln Saunders, Stoney’s former Chief of Staff. Saunders is filling in for city administrator Lenora Reid. Beginning in December, Reid became unable to work because of a “medical emergency”.
Stay with 8News for updates.