Top Mississippi state lawmaker tests positive for coronavirus after flag debate

Top Mississippi state lawmaker tests positive for coronavirus after flag debate
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Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) announced Sunday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gunn said in a video posted on his Facebook page that he sought a test after coming into contact with another lawmaker who had also been diagnosed with the virus.

“I felt like I needed to go get myself tested just because I had been with this person and this morning was informed that I too have tested positive for COVID,” Gunn said, adding that he will self-isolate. “I feel very fortunate that I don’t really have very many symptoms and feel fine.”

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The lawmaker, who did not identify the other House member who tested positive for the virus, said he had reached out to anyone he was in close contact with to tell them he had tested positive. He also called on anyone experiencing symptoms to also self-quarantine and notify anyone they’ve been in contact with if they test positive.

“We need to make sure that we do everything we can to get this past us as quickly as possible,” he said.

Mississippi lawmakers met for much of June, sometimes wearing masks and sometimes not, and frequently sat together in close proximity in committee rooms while discussing the ultimately successful proposal to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state flag, The Associated Press reported.

The state department of health reported another 226 new cases on Saturday. Thomas Dobbs, the state’s top health official, tweeted a graph of spiking caseloads last Thursday, warning residents “things are getting worse very quickly" and urging them to avoid large gatherings and parties.