Some Pennsylvania Democratic lawmakers are demanding a full investigation of Republican House leadership after it has come to light that at least one Republican tested positive for COVID-19 and kept it a secret from their Democratic counterparts as the two parties worked together through the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday State Rep. Andrew Lewis (R) issued a statement saying that he learned he had tested positive for COVID-19 on May 20. He had the test on May 18.
Once he found out he said he “immediately began self-isolation protocol and contacted the House of Representatives, and our caucus Human Resources department. My last day in the Capitol was Thursday, May 14.
“We worked together and followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s workplace exposure guidelines to determine exactly who I may have been in contact with, and who I may have possibly exposed to the virus,” Lewis wrote.
The statement went on to say:
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. Out of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed, I chose to keep my positive case private. 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 and I look forward to being a resource in sharing my experiences with COVID-19 and helping our community navigate this crisis together.
However, Pennsylvania Dems are saying they were not notified of their possible exposure and are expressing outrage at what Rep. Brian Sims (D) is calling a cover-up.
Democratic House Rep. Brian Sims Railed Against Pennsylvania Republican Leaders Who He Said Willfully Withheld Telling Any Dems That People Were Testing Positive
RESIGN! We’ve learned today that House Speaker @MikeTurzai and Republican leaders knew for a week that at least one of their Members had tested positive, and they quarantined a few of their own Members as a result, but failed to notify any of us exposed to them!
— Brian Sims (@BrianSimsPA) May 27, 2020
In a 12-minute long Facebook video a visibly angry and shaken Sims accused Republican leaders of “not notifying a single democratic member who has to show up every day for this crap,” referring to how the Republican majority has been pushing to re-open businesses.
According to Sims, the State Government Committee has met more than any other body of state legislation since the COVID-19 outbreak. There are 9 Democrats and 14 Republicans on the State Government Committee, and according to Sims the Republicans were secretly being tested and quarantining.
Sims said in the video, “Every single day…every single day that our gerrymandered Republican leadership has been calling us into this building so they could pass these ridiculous bills pretending that it was safe to be out there, they were covering up that it wasn’t safe.”
Sims railed at the Republicans, saying, “You have no idea how the people around you are impacted and that is why it’s so important to notify people.”
Sims said that his colleagues were possibly exposing their own families unknowingly and that some had young children at home and spouses with underlying conditions. Sims also broke the news that he had donated a kidney in January to a neighbor who was dying of renal failure.”
“Holy Sh*t!” Sims said, “Exposing all of us up here to this crap while covering up what was going on, while simultaneously telling people — telling families that it was safe to be outside, that it was safe to be interacting with other people while you were testing positive — while you were quarantining.”
Sims called for full investigations into Republican leaders who he says knew that at least on of their members had the virus and did not report it to the hundreds of people that could’ve been exposed in the government building every day. He said there “needs to be prosecutions.”
He also called for Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai to resign, saying Turzai has actively been going after the secretary of Health, who Sims said is one of the most qualified people in the country to deal with the pandemic while Turza “perpetuated the lie that it was safe for Pennsylvanians to be outside, that it was safe for Pennsylvanians to interact with each other.”
Sims said that Turzai brought the House staff back every day and went industry by industry “and explained how it was safe. Even using the House as an example.”
I sat in state government a week ago with one of these members while it was explained to us that the room we were in was the perfect example of how safe it could be. I didn’t donate my kidney to save someone’s life so I could die at the hands of Republicans who are being callous liars…How dare you put our lives at risk!? How dare you put our families at risk and pretend it was about looking out for your own!? We know you’re looking out for your own.
Heavy has reached out to Rep. Turzai’s office for a comment on Sim’s accusations and the call for his resignation.
Andrew Lewis Maintains It’s Unlikely He Infected Anyone at the Capitol the Last Day he Was There, But many Expressed Outraged on Social Media
In a Facebook video posted by Andrew Lewis Wednesday night he talked about his last day at work before being tested:
I went there for a couple hours; we had a session day. One — I wore a mask; two — did not shake any hands; three — it’s pretty much a ghost town at the Capitol right now, the cafeteria is closed, so I actually only interacted with a handful of folks, like maybe four or five people. There’s only a couple people in the vicinity where I sit that were there that day. They were both notified, and anyone I had contact with that day, they were notified. They were able to get quarantined, get tested, no positive tests that I’m aware of. I notified human resources when I got my positive test back, called human resources, ensured everyone was notified.
Still, those who may have been exposed say it was wrong for him and Republican leaders to keep the information to himself for so long.
State Rep. Andrew Lewis says he “immediately … contacted the House of Representatives, and [the GOP] Human Resources Department.” That’s 5/20 when he learned he had COVID-19
Democrats weren’t informed until today, 5/27.
In between, there was session, meetings, and so on.
— Rep. Mike Zabel (@RepZabel) May 27, 2020
It is reprehensible that GOP Rep Andrew Lewis tested positive for coronavirus, yet never bothered to inform his colleagues. 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. https://t.co/faoEhMZlq9
— Rep. Kevin J. Boyle (@RepKevinBoyle) May 28, 2020
I am shocked and saddened by House Republican leaders' disregard for the health and safety of their colleagues. It is unacceptable that Republican leadership hid the fact that a deadly virus had entered the Capitol.
My full statement here: https://t.co/gLqoRpa615
— Senator Tim Kearney (@SenTimKearney) May 28, 2020