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Georgia senator tests positive for coronavirus

By Beau Evans
Staff Writer/Capitol Beat News Service

ATLANTA – The entire Georgia legislature has been urged to self-quarantine after a state senator tested positive for coronavirus Wednesday.

Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, started showing symptoms including a fever and cough last Tuesday. He said he was not diagnosed with the virus after seeking medical attention and started feeling better, according to news releases.

On Monday, Beach appeared for nearly eight hours at the Georgia Capitol, where around 200 state lawmakers and a smattering of government staff members and journalists convened for a special session. Two days later, after being tested on Saturday, Beach said his results came back positive.

“I know many Georgians are praying hard as we weather this crisis together,” Beach said in a statement. “And frankly, I’d ask that they pray for me, as well as all the others in our state who are going through this right now – and those who will soon.”

So far, test results confirm 197 Georgians have been infected with COVID-19, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The number of confirmed cases has risen steadily each day. Additionally, four people are known to have died from the virus at hospitals in Atlanta, Marietta and Albany.

The General Assembly’s legislative session was in full swing until late last week, when lawmakers agreed to an indefinite suspension as concern over the virus’ spread ramped up dramatically. Lawmakers met again Monday for a one-day special session to approve emergency powers for Gov. Brian Kemp.

Top lawmakers in the state House and Senate sent word Wednesday their members should self-quarantine for the next two weeks. Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan noted the wisdom of suspending the session and asked everyone to follow the advice of doctors and health officials: stay home and avoid social interactions for the time being.

“Together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19 so that our medical professionals can focus on treating those most at risk,” said Dugan, R-Carrollton.

For some lawmakers, the appearance of Beach at the Capitol Monday after he started experiencing common symptoms of the virus nearly a week prior was a source of anger and frustration. Rep. Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs, wrote on Facebook that he was “shaking with rage” to learn about Beach’s movements.

“I have an elderly hospice patient at home,” Turner said. “[Beach] irresponsibly stayed all day at the Capitol on Monday after being tested on Saturday and exposed all of us.”

[Editor’s note: State Sen. Carden Summers of Cordele has said in a social media post, “to be on the safe side, I will not be making any unnecessary appearances or other for the next 10 days. I’ll be working from home.”]