By David Eggert, Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Lansing-area lawmaker has tested positive for the coronavirus through screening required by his service in the Michigan Army National Guard, prompting the cancellation of the legislative session and hearings this week.
Republican Sen. Tom Barrett, of Charlotte, said he was told the results Sunday afternoon after being tested Friday. The 39-year-old said he was tested because the guard implemented a COVID-19 screening policy for all soldiers one week before they are to depart for training events.
He said he tested positive despite having taken “reasonable precautions.” Videos show him wearing a mask during several committee meetings last week and the week before.
Barrett sponsored a bill in April that would repeal a law that has given Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer broad emergency powers to act unilaterally during the pandemic. The Senate-passed bill is pending in the House but would surely be vetoed by the governor if it passed.
“Thankfully I do not have any significant symptoms at this time, and I will be self-isolating according to medical guidelines,” he said in a statement. “I have done my best to make contact with those I have been around in the past couple weeks so that they may also seek medical advice. I look forward to resuming my normal work schedule as quickly as possible.”
The state Senate and House on Monday canceled a voting session that had been scheduled for Thursday and all committee hearings that had been scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Clarklake Republican, encouraged caucus members to be tested.
“We all wish Senator Barrett a speedy recovery” he said in a statement.
Thursday was when legislators might have voted on bills related to the start of the school year, including proposed changes to redefine “attendance” so that students would not have to be physically present in schools during the pandemic and limiting snow day forgiveness so that distance learning is done instead.
One controversial part of the plan approved by House Republicans would require districts to offer the option of in-person instruction to kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. Several schools have already announced plans to begin the academic year solely with remote teaching.
Barrett is the third known Michigan state legislator — and first state senator — with a confirmed coronavirus case. A fourth, Democratic Rep. Isaac Robinson of Detroit, likely died of COVID-19 in March, though he was not tested for it, his mother said.
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Source: The Village Reporter