Four state senators test positive for COVID-19 in Georgia

Published 1:28 pm Monday, March 23, 2020

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By Beau Evans
Staff Writer-Capitol Beat News Service

ATLANTA – Four state senators including the chairwoman of the Georgia Democratic Party have tested positive for coronavirus as the untreatable respiratory disease continues to spread across Georgia with hundreds of confirmed cases and more than two dozen deaths.

First to publicly announce his COVID-19 diagnosis was Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, whose test results came back positive days after attending a special session of the General Assembly last Monday. His announcement was followed by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta, who alerted constituents late Friday night that she also had contracted the virus.

Then, Sen. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, said on Facebook Sunday night that she tested positive after developing a fever last Monday and being tested Thursday afternoon on the top floor of the parking deck of her doctor’s office. Williams, who chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia, called her diagnosis a reminder that anyone can contract the virus, not just those most vulnerable like people over 60-years old or with chronic health issues.

“YOU can get this too,” Williams said. “Many of you reading this already have the coronavirus and are showing no symptoms.”

Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, also received confirmation Sunday that he had contracted coronavirus. Thompson was admitted to the hospital last Monday with respiratory issues and released over the weekend once his condition improved.

“While I am feeling much better, I plan to remain at home in self-quarantine for the immediate future,” Thompson said on Facebook.

Georgia lawmakers hit pause on the 2020 legislative session earlier this month as concerns deepened over the spreading virus. They reconvened briefly last Monday to approve temporary emergency powers for Gov. Brian Kemp.

Last week, Senate leadership including Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and the chamber’s majority caucus urged the chamber’s 56 members to self-quarantine. Duncan has not been tested and has not experienced any of the typical symptoms associated with coronavirus such as high fever and a dry cough, an aide said.

House Speaker David Ralston has also not been tested and is not showing symptoms, according to his office. His office was not aware Monday of any Georgia representatives having tested positive for the virus.

Last week, Kemp’s office said the governor does not plan to be tested and was isolated from members of the House and Senate while at the state Capitol building during last Monday’s special session as symptoms cropped up for some lawmakers.

The novel strain of coronavirus has sickened 772 people and led to 25 deaths in Georgia as of noon Monday. Many businesses across the state have ground to a halt as workers isolate themselves to help curb the virus’ spread, while several city and county governments have imposed restrictions on gatherings and restaurants.