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Pennsylvania House Democrats accuse Republicans of keeping positive GOP member test from them for one week



In a statement Wednesday, Republican state Rep. Andrew Lewis confirmed that he tested positive for Covid-19 on May 20 and immediately began to isolate himself after working to notify anyone who contacted him while in the Capitol. Democratic Leader Frank Dermody told CNN he and other Democrats learned about Lewis’s positive test on Wednesday – after Lewis said he had ended his self-separation and announced his public scrutiny.

While the Republican-led legislature is pondering how to reopen the state and fight with the governor in its declaration of emergency, they are also fighting Democrats, who say they don’t know about Lewis’s positive test and are worried about their health as they force more businesses to operate remotely.

Lewis said he was last in the Capitol for the day of the session on May 1
4. In a Facebook Live video, Lewis said he wore a mask that day, didn’t shake hands, and he only interacted with about five tao.

The Dauphin County lawmaker said he told the “House of Representatives and our department’s Human Resources department” his review and they worked to determine who might be in contact with him and could potentially be exposed to the virus. Republicans control the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania.

“Anyone who contacted me that day was notified, quarantined, tested, there were no positive tests I was aware of,” Lewis said on Facebook.

Lewis said he chose to keep his case positive “out of respect for my family, and for those I may have been exposed to.”

“Now that I have fully recovered and completed the quarantine as required by the Department of Health, I now feel that it is an appropriate time to share this information with the public and my constituents,” Lewis said.

CNN arrives at Lewis’s office.

Dermody said in a statement that “while we are pleased to know that this Chamber member is recovering, it is unacceptable that some House Republicans have been aware of this for more than a week and are sitting on that knowledge.”

“Knowing how members of staff and staff work together in the Capitol, we should have known this sooner,” Dermody said.

Dermody told CNN that he was “angry and frustrated” when he learned about Lewis’s trial Wednesday afternoon from a local news report, urging him to call the Republican leadership and House clerk to see if true.

“We are talking to (Republicans). We have come up with policies that will never happen again. But we should have been told,” Dermody told CNN on Thursday, saying it was “commonplace decent. “

Dermody told CNN that they began contacting the committee to see which committee meetings Lewis attended and how close he was to Democratic members.

Republican Russ Diamond confirmed Wednesday in a statement that he is one of the members who has self-quarantined. On Twitter, Diamond said he had not been checked.

He wrote that he had been notified on May 21 that he had contacted a person on May 14 who tested positive for Covid-19, but he was not told who that individual was.

Diamond said Wednesday that he has been in the quarantine for 14 days and plans to return to the Capitol on Thursday. He said he did not feel ill or that he had any symptoms of the virus.

Dermody told CNN that he was unaware of the other members being asked to quarantine.

Mike Straub, House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler’s secretary, said in a statement issued to CNN that they have implemented the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines “in line with exactly what Gov. (Tom) Wolf has requested from to any business that wants to operate today. ”

He confirmed that “anyone who meets those guidelines is informed and quarantined.” Citing privacy concerns, Straub said he could no longer provide information about who was provided that they might be in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

“The 48 hours before the onset of symptoms are trivial. By that timeline, Rep. Lewis has only been to the Capitol for a short time within that window – thus keeping track of who is in contact. to him is easy to prove, and as he said in his statement, anyone who needs to be notified has been notified and is currently separating himself, “he added.

As cases of coronavirus begin to rise in the state, the Pennsylvania House passed a temporary rule in March that allowed its 203 members to vote remotely or by proxy.

In the last two weeks, there have been six voting days and more than 15 separate committee meetings in the House, according to Dermody.

“For members traveling to the Capitol in person, each of these meetings increases the risk of possible exposure,” he said.

After Wednesday’s announcement, several Democratic states, including Democratic state Rep. Brian Sims, has called Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai to resign.

CNN arrives at Turzai’s office.

“I just spent the better part of the last 11 weeks sitting in a room from people who would eventually test positive and decided not to tell us,” said Sims, who was clearly disturbed in a video of Live Live Nudity. He called on every member of the House and staff to be evaluated, and for Republicans to pay for it.

“How do you put our lives at risk. How dare you put our families at risk,” Sims said, attacking Republicans as “outright liars.”

“This idea that just by quarantining probably the last two or three of his own colleagues he contacted after finding out he was positive is similar to a contact trace demanded by the public health and the CDC it would be funny if it wasn’t so deadly, “Sims told Brianna Keilar on CNN on Thursday.

Kevin Boyle, minority leader of the House State Government Committee, Question Attorney General Josh Shapiro for an investigation, saying, “we must determine if any criminal or ethical laws are broken.”

Democratic Rep. Dan Frankel, the House Health Committee’s minority leader, said House Democratic leaders Wednesday learned that four GOP caucus members are in their own quarantine.

“In the meantime, some members of the Republic know that their own membership is exposed to Covid-19, and they choose to keep that information,” Frankel said.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.




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