- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Pennsylvania state lawmaker is taking significant criticism from his colleagues after he waited about a week to publicly disclose his positive coronavirus diagnosis.

Rep. Andrew Lewis, Dauphin Republican, said on Wednesday that he kept the news private out of respect for his family and people he might have exposed.

He said he tested positive on May 20 and immediately began to self-isolate, saying his last day at the state Capitol building was on May 14.

“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,” Mr. Lewis said. “Out of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed, I chose to keep my positive case private.”

He said he feels fine now and has completed his quarantine.

“It’s pretty much a ghost town at the Capitol right now,” Mr. Lewis said. “I only interacted with a handful of folks — maybe four or five people.”

“I did what I needed to do to protect their privacy. … They’ve had time to get their test and all those things,” he said.

Democrats slammed Mr. Lewis and statehouse Republicans, saying they needlessly kept their colleagues out of the loop.

“I’m in a building right now surrounded by members that can’t go see their kids, that are having to call their husbands, having to call their wives and [say], ‘Honey, I might have exposed you and everybody I love in this world because one of my colleagues tested positive,’ ” said Rep. Brian Sims, Philadelphia Democrat.

“He was protecting his family but not protecting mine, and Republican leadership protected him,” Mr. Sims said.

Mr. Sims said House Speaker Mike Turzai, Allegheny Republican, should resign and that any member of GOP leadership who knew what was going on should be investigated by the attorney general.

A spokesman for statehouse Republicans said lawmakers abided by federal and state health guidelines and that they couldn’t talk about Mr. Lewis‘ medical issue because of federal privacy laws.

Republicans in Pennsylvania have repeatedly tried to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus-related restrictions and have criticized Mr. Wolf for being too slow in his plans to gradually reopen parts of the state.

Pennsylvania is one of the hardest-hit states amid the pandemic, with more than 73,000 cases and more than 5,200 coronavirus-related deaths among its 12.8 million residents.

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