Entire Georgia state legislature urged to self-quarantine after positive coronavirus test

Entire Georgia state legislature urged to self-quarantine after positive coronavirus test

The entire state legislature of Georgia is being urged to self-quarantine after a state senator who participated in a vote on Monday tested positive for the coronavirus.

State Sen. Brandon Beach (R) said that he received a test on Saturday after experiencing a cough and mild fever, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He said that he felt healthy enough to participate in Monday's special legislative session that was used to give Gov. Brian Kemp (R) new authorities to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. 

On Wednesday, he disclosed that his test had come back positive, prompting Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) and House Speaker David Ralston (R) to call on all 236 state lawmakers to quarantine themselves through the end of March. The request was also sent to state Senate and House staffers. 

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"We want to protect our members, their families and the individuals they come in contact with daily," Duncan said in a statement. "The special session on Monday was absolutely necessary to ratify the governor’s public health state of emergency, and we tried to take serious precautions to keep members safe while at the Capitol."

The disclosure that Beach exhibited symptoms dating back as far as March 10 sparked outrage from some lawmakers. State Rep. Scot Turner (R) said in a Facebook post that he was "shaking with rage," saying that the legislator "exposed us all."

Beach said in a statement that he thought he was "in the clear" after taking medication and feeling better on Monday. 

“I know many Georgians are praying hard as we weather this crisis together, and frankly, I’d ask that they pray for me,” he said. 

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 200,000 people worldwide and has spread to every state in the U.S. Georgia has reported roughly 200 confirmed cases of the virus as of Wednesday evening. 

Beach became the first Georgia state lawmaker to announce he had tested positive for the virus. State Sen. Bruce Thompson (R) said earlier this week that he had been hospitalized and was awaiting results. He did not participate in Monday's special session.