BLACKSBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Many people in Blacksburg told 7 News they’re upset with their mayor for attending a town council meeting Tuesday night just before receiving a positive COVID test result.
So, 7 News spoke with the mayor about it.
“It seems like COVID just sort of exploded throughout the country in the last week or so,” said Blacksburg Mayor Mike Patterson.
Mayor Patterson told 7 News that COVID has been on his mind a lot lately, and he got a little curious when he had what appeared to be some mild symptoms of the virus.
“I had a small cold–nothing that I’d never had before,” he said.
As a precaution, he got tested.
“I own a garage downtown and I’m around so many people. I’m around–not tens of people–but thousands of people a week,” he said.
Patterson said those at the testing site told him he would know within 24 hours if he tested positive.
“24 hours went by and nobody called, nobody emailed,” he said. “They had my email, they had my phone number, they had everything. I thought, ‘Well, I’m negative.'”
So, assuming he had tested negative, he attended Tuesday night’s town council meeting.
“I get up and tell everybody, ‘Merry Christmas. Goodbye.’ I walk out and get home, and my phone rings,” he said.
That phone call informed him that he had, in fact, tested positive for the virus.
Patterson said he immediately called the town administrator, who then notified everyone who was at the meeting.
“There’s no way on God’s green earth that I would ever intentionally try to give anybody this terrible disease,” Patterson said. “I’ve lost my father-in-law, and my brother-in-law is still in the hospital–for over a month now–so anyone who thinks I would try to give this to someone, they are dead wrong. I am not that kind of person.”
“This may have been a lapse of good judgement on the mayor’s part, but I do not feel, in any way, that he intended to cause harm to anyone,” District 3 Councilman Darren Janesky added.
Mayor Patterson is now apologizing to those he may have exposed.
“What’s done is done. I can’t back up,” he said. “I truly apologize. My town family, I would never–I mean we disagree about things–but I would never harm any of them in any way.”
Mayor Patterson told 7 News he’s going to be quarantining for the next ten days.
7 News spoke with some town council members who said they are quarantining now as well, and some plan to be tested. Others said they don’t plan to be tested, but said they will be mindful around others.
Blacksburg town officials told 7 News there were between 20 and 35 people at Tuesday night’s council meeting. Mayor Patterson said only one council member was wearing a mask.