Florida State University President John Thrasher, wife test positive for COVID-19
John Thrasher. Image via Colin Hackley.

The university president tested positive Tuesday, the day after his wife's positive test.

Florida State University President John Thrasher and his wife, Jean Thrasher, have tested positive for COVID-19.

The university President and former House Speaker received a positive COVID-19 test Tuesday afternoon after his wife received a positive diagnosis late Monday. He attended FSU’s football game Saturday against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks without his wife.

Both Thrashers are at home, isolating and monitoring symptoms.

“Both are feeling well at this time, and the president is working from home,” the university said in a statement.

“We are feeling well at this time and truly appreciate everyone’s support and well wishes!” the President added in his own Twitter statement.

University officials added that the school President is regularly tested for the COVID-19 virus, the previous result returning negative on Friday.

Although he has limited in-person meetings and primarily communicates over Zoom, virtual events and other online communication means, some of his staff have worked closely in recent days. Those staff members tested negative Tuesday after his diagnosis, and school and public health officials are conducting contact tracing.

The university campus remains open this fall, but most classes are remote.

COVID-19 cases on campus trended downward last week with a 2% positivity rate after a surge early last month, according to the university.

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.

Thrasher has taken a hardline approach to limiting coronavirus spread, announcing last months that students who flout isolation orders could face suspensions for at least one semester.

“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.”

That drew indirect criticism from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who suggested lawmakers could present a student Bill of Rights.

The university President has also been a proponent of school sports, advocating for their return alongside the Governor. In August, he said he hoped that by playing safely and with strict precautions, FSU could play a role in convincing reluctant college sports conferences to return.

“I think all these red herrings that are out there that have talked about, frankly, we’ve dealt with, we’ve dealt with for the entire time that we’ve been getting ready to play football,” Thrasher said. “We’ve tried to imagine every circumstance that could happen, and we think we can do it safely.”

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 a lawyer, 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.


The News Service of Florida contributed to this post.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    October 7, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Sir you did not follow your own advice! What the heck you think happens at a damn football game? Has contact tracing been done ? Or you are ignoring your advice again? Do as I say do not as I do has kicked you in the ass!

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