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Democrats Say Republican Lawmaker Hid COVID Diagnosis

Uproar at the Pennsylvania General Assembly
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2020 1:32 AM CDT

(Newser) – Democratic members of Pennsylvania's state legislature say their Republican colleagues withheld crucial coronavirus information—including one GOP lawmaker's positive diagnosis. Rep. Andrew Lewis tested positive for COVID-19 on May 20, and at least one of his Republican colleagues was asked, the following day, to self-quarantine for 14 days due to potential exposure. Democrats say they were unaware of all of this until Wednesday, a week after the positive test result, when Lewis announced the news on Facebook. They also claim two additional Republican representatives, who have not yet come forward, were also asked to self-quarantine due to potential exposure to Lewis, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Lewis says he only had close interactions with "a couple of people" during the time he was potentially contagious.

PennLive reports that the fallout from the controversy has included calls for resignations, an investigation, a rule change to avoid similar situations in the future, and even for the House speaker to be jailed. "Every single day of this crisis this State Government Committee in Pennsylvania has met so that their members could line up one after one after one and explain that it was safe to go back to work," Democratic Rep. Brian Sims said in what NBC News terms an "epic Facebook Live rant." "During that time period they were testing positive. They were notifying one another. And they didn’t notify us." For Lewis' part, he says he started self-isolating as soon as mild symptoms appeared, and that he didn't announce his diagnosis right away "out of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed." He says he has fully recovered. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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