Coronavirus Threat: 236 Members of the Georgia State Legislature Urged to Self-Isolate

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, pauses while honoring Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, during the first day of the year for the general session of the state legislature, Monday, Jan 13, 2020, in Atlanta. Powell died last year during a retreat of Republican legislative leaders. (AP Photo/John Amis)
AP Photo/John Amis

All 236 members of Georgia’s state legislature were urged Wednesday to self-isolate following possible exposure to the Chinese coronavirus from one of their colleagues.

The lawmakers in both chambers were urged to make the move after one of their colleagues, State Sen. Brandon Beach (R), revealed he has tested positive for the virus. He was reportedly screened for the virus on Saturday after experiencing a fever and cough but did not get his results until Wednesday.

Despite the lingering symptoms, he participated in a vote on Monday, possibly exposing his colleagues in the process.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the lawmaker “said he felt healthy enough to join dozens of legislators, staff members and reporters for a one-day special legislative session at the Capitol to grant Gov. Brian Kemp broad powers to respond to the pandemic.”

His positive test prompted Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston (pictured) to instruct remaining members to self-isolate for the remainder of the month, or March 30.

Gov. Kemp is using Beach’s case to demonstrate why people “need to do what we’re asking them to do” and stay home.

“The biggest thing is social distance yourself,” he told 680 The Fan. “If you are sick, do not – do not – go out. Stay home until you can figure out what’s going on. Don’t go to the doctor. Don’t show up at the emergency room. Don’t show up at work.”

Still, Beach’s decision prompted anger from some of his colleagues.

“I’m shaking with rage,” State Rep. Scot Turner (R) said in a post. “We were told if we had symptoms to refrain from going to the Capitol on Monday.”

He continued:

Senator Brandon Beach knew he was exhibiting symptoms since MARCH THE 10TH!

I have an elderly hospice patient at home. He irresponsibly stayed all day at the Capitol on Monday after being tested on Saturday and exposed all of us.

I cannot remember the last time I’ve been this angry.

Beach, however, said he began feeling better and “thought I was in the clear” after making the decision to vote on Monday. His wife also said he was “thought to be on the mend” before receiving his test results:

Two members of the U.S. Congress, Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL) and Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), have tested positive for the virus.


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