Pennsylvania Rep Told Republicans, not Dems, He Was Positive for Covid

Pennsylvania state Representative Andrew Lewis described his positive diagnosis for Covid-19 in a video live-streamed Wednesday, May 27, on Facebook. The Dauphin Republican is seeking a second term in the 2020 election.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) — Pennsylvania Democratic legislators are calling for an investigation after a Republican member of the state tested positive for the Covid-19 but waited a week to inform them.

Representative Andrew Lewis, who is running this fall for a second term representing Dauphin, confirmed his diagnosis in a statement Wednesday.

Though he got his results back on May 20, Lewis noted that May 14 was his last day in the Capitol building where state lawmakers are still discussing bills. 

“I can confirm every member or staff member who met the criteria for exposure was immediately contacted and required to self-isolate for 14 days from their date of possible exposure,” Lewis said.

That afternoon, however, Democrats balked that the notification appeared to have only been made to Republicans, putting their members and families at risk.

“It is reprehensible that GOP Rep Andrew Lewis tested positive for coronavirus, yet never bothered to inform his colleagues,” Representative Kevin Boyle, the Democratic Chair of the House State Government Committee, tweeted Wednesday night. “It’s worse GOP leadership didn’t inform PA Capitol staff & members. Any Republican leader who knew and didn’t inform House staff & members needs to resign.”

The local NBC affiliate meanwhile quoted Democratic Representative Malcolm Kenyatta bemoaning what he called a “GOP Covid cover-up,” noting that, all the while Republicans were quietly self-quarantining, they were loudly lobbying for the state to lift lockdown restrictions.

Kenyatta has been a vocal opponent of two bills in the House that would allow counties in “yellow” and “green” phases of reopening to open 50% of seating in restaurants. Pennsylvania is using a three-tier system that designates work and congregation restrictions and social restrictions based on how many Covid-19 cases are in a county at a given time; the phases consist of red, yellow and green designations. Both bills passed in the Pennsylvania House and are now in the Senate, but Kenyatta says neither offers a plan for safeguarding service workers or an assurance that they will be provided with personal protective equipment.

“When you withhold information about a deadly virus which has at this point taken the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians and don’t share that information, it is the height of playing politics,” Kenyatta told NBC10. “As they’ve been saying, ‘It’s safe, let’s send everybody back to work,’ knowing full well that they had a member of their own delegation who tested positive for this virus and they had multiple members who were in quarantine. So they want quarantine for them but they want low-wage workers to go back to work immediately without a plan of keeping them safe. The hypocrisy is glaring and the coverup, we need to get to the bottom of it.”

Boyle called for Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro to investigate the situation and for Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai to resign.

“We’ve met 12 times in the last 2 months,” Boyle tweeted. “The meetings take place in a smaller room off the House floor. Not informing anyone there is a #Covid19 positive member with multiple GOP members in quarantine should be criminal.” 

Lewis noted in his statement Wednesday that he had kept his diagnosis private “out of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed.”

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

Mike Straub, a spokesperson for Pennsylvania House Republicans, did not respond immediately Thursday to a request for comment.

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