Democrats in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives are fighting mad after learning that a Republican lawmaker tested positive for the coronavirus and hid the results from other state House members to avoid political embarrassment.
According to the New York Times, “Republican House member, Andrew Lewis, confirmed on Wednesday that he received a positive test on May 20 and went into self-isolation. Mr. Lewis said that every lawmaker or staff member he was in contact with who “met the criteria for exposure” was notified.”
But Democrats are claiming that’s bullshit. Yes, they say that Lewis went into self-isolation but that wasn’t until almost a week after learning he was positive for COVID-19. They believe that Lewis and other Republican members kept the positive test a secret “to protect their public talking points against science and facts,” the Times reports.
Pennsylvania Republicans have been at the forefront of the “fuck these masks” movement. In fact, Republican representative Russ Diamond, whom the Times notes was notified about the risk of possible exposure, spoke at “an anti-shutdown protest outside the Capitol last month and had boasted on social media of not wearing a mask while shopping.”
Representative Brian K. Sims, a Democrat from Philadelphia, posted an emotional Facebook video in which he wondered what kind of animals these assholes are.
Sims noted that Diamond has “apparently been quarantining himself for weeks” but “didn’t explain that to any of us when he was in committee, talking with us or walking up and down the aisles or bumping into us or letting us hold the door open for him.”
“How dare you put our lives at risk?” Sims said, noting that he had recently donated a kidney. “How dare you put our families at risk?”
Lewis told the Times that he kept his positive diagnosis private “out of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed” because he doesn’t understand how any of this works. You are supposed to tell everyone that you’ve got the coronavirus so that everyone knows to stay the fuck away from you.
“The fact the Republican caucus didn’t inform the Democratic caucus is deeply reckless and immoral,” Representative Kevin J. Boyle, the Democratic chair of the state government committee, told the Times, adding that he sat near Lewis without any idea that he’d tested positive.
Boyle went on to speculate why Republicans didn’t inform Democrats of Lewis’ positive test.
“The optics are terrible” for Republicans, he said, the Times reports. “Lewis and Diamond have been high-profile members of the anti-shutdown movement. They’ve been consistently telling everyone we’ve overreacted with shutdown orders and Covid-19 is not the danger it is.”
A spokesman for House Republicans, Mike Straub, claims that nothing was amiss as they followed all state and federal guidelines concerning whom to notify of his positive test.
“Rep. Lewis was only in the Capitol for a short period of time within that window—so tracing who he was in contact with was easily verified,” Straub said in a statement to the Times.
Representative Ryan Bizzarro, a Democrat, called bullshit.
“We have footage of him being here,” after the positive test, Bizzarro said. “The thing that was just infuriating about this whole situation is that we found out the Republican caucus leadership knew about this and tried to bury it.”
In his video, Sims called House Speaker Mike Turzai a “scoundrel” “and demanded that the state attorney general open an investigation,” the Times reports.