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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Accuse Republican Leaders Of Hiding Legislators’ Positive Coronavirus Status

TOPLINE

Multiple Democratic members of the Pennsylvania State House have alleged that Republican leaders withheld positive cases of coronavirus among Republican members and are calling on them to resign.

KEY FACTS

Republican Rep. Andrew Lewis announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 last week, while his colleague Russ Diamond confirmed he was exposed and went into self quarantine along with several other lawmakers of both parties, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.

Diamond had been an outspoken opponent of both lockdown measures and mask wearing, often eschewing masks in public and at the state capitol.

Democratic Representative Kevin Boyle, who chairs a committee on which both Lewis and Diamond sit, told the Inquirer, “whoever knew this in the Republican leadership and did not inform the broader membership and staff, they need to resign immediately.”

Several Democratic House members took to Twitter to accuse Republican leaders, Speaker Mike Turzai in particular, of knowing about the positive tests and self-quarantines but failing to disclose them.

“Today we learned that House Speaker Mike Turzai has known that Republican Members have either tested positive, or been quarantined, and withheld this information from Democrats including those of us who serve on the committees with those members,” Representative Brian Sims tweeted Wednesday.

Representative Malcolm Kenyatta said he is “angry” and “disturbed,” and alleged Turzei “knew for at least a week,” calling on him to step down.

Key background

Diamond and Lewis both sit on the State Government Committee, which is charged with overseeing the state’s reopening and which Boyle said “met 12 times in the last 2 months.” He added that the meetings take place in a “smaller room off the House floor,” and asserted that “not informing anyone there is a COVID-19 positive member with multiple GOP members in quarantine should be criminal.”

Chief Critic

House Republican spokesperson Mike Straub told the Inquirer “absolutely anyone, from anywhere in the Capitol, who may have been exposed within those guidelines was notified.” He also insisted that they “followed data and science, implementing the guidelines from the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health, in line with exactly what Gov. Wolf requires from any business that wishes to operate.”

Big number

64,417. There have been 69,417 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 5,265 deaths in Pennsylvania, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Source: Forbes Business

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