Democrats in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives reacted strongly to the news on Wednesday that their Republican colleague Rep. Andrew Lewis had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been self-isolating for a week.
Pennsylvania Democrats said Republicans were withholding crucial information from them while touting their plans to reopen the state, according to HuffPost. Several Democratic members took to social media to express outrage that they had been kept in the dark over the positive test.
Democratic State Rep. Brian Sims recorded himself yelling at House Republicans for not disclosing the information and even demanded resignations.
HOLY SHIT. Per @BrianSimsPA, in PA’s state legislature, GOP leadership HID the fact that a Republican tested positive for COVID and yet still interacted with Democratic members, who then went back home to their families, likely exposing their loved ones. And the Republicans KNEW. pic.twitter.com/I5ZdksioQX
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) May 28, 2020
Democratic State Rep. Liz Hanbidge accused Republicans of being “self-serving” and “anti-science,” adding that their motivation was to “endanger more lives.”
While the #COVID19 death toll in Pennsylvania continues to rise, the same state legislators who are pushing policy to reopen our commonwealth against expert medical advice have now proven themselves unable to even responsibly self-govern in the face of this virus.
— Rep. Liz Hanbidge (@RepHanbidge) May 27, 2020
Democratic State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta also called on Speaker of the House Mike Turzai to resign. “They were derelict in their duty when they did not alert us to this immediately,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer in a statement Wednesday.
Kenyatta also called the situation a “GOP Covid coverup” and referred to House Republicans as a risk to public health and safety.
State Rep. @malcolmkenyatta calls out the “GOP Covid coverup” that exposed Pennsylvania Democrats and others to coronavirus after Republicans refused to disclose that some of their members had tested positive for the virus or were in quarantine.pic.twitter.com/g8nn1UcTRk
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) May 28, 2020
Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Andrew Lewis, who tested positive for coronavirus May 20 and had been self-isolating since, posted an update top Facebook on Wednesday informing the public about the decision he had made.
Lewis stated that House Republicans had followed the guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to determine who may have been exposed to Lewis prior to his test.
“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 wrote.
In response to accusations from the Democrats that Lewis left them in the dark about his positive test, he further added, “Out of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed, I chose to keep my positive case private.”
Press Secretary Mike Straub defended Lewis and said the chamber had followed the appropriate protocol. “We followed data and science, implementing the guidelines from the CDC and PA Dept. of Health, in line with exactly what Gov. Wolf requires from any business that wishes to operate,” he told Penn Live in a statement Wednesday. (RELATED: PA Restaurant Defies Lockdown: ‘We Are Not In A Communist Country’)
Pennsylvania has been under a strict lockdown overseen by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, and has so far reported more than 5,200 deaths. Lewis reported that he has fully recovered and will return to work following his self-isolation.