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Georgia state lawmaker removed from chamber after refusing COVID-19 test

A Georgia state lawmaker was removed from the state's House chambers on Tuesday over his refusal to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines that require testing for lawmakers and staff.

After being asked to leave by Speaker David Ralston (R), and declining to do so, state Rep. David Clark (R) was escorted out of the chamber by a state trooper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Clark was removed over his refusal to take mandatory twice-weekly coronavirus tests. He hasn't taken any throughout the duration of the session, which is now three weeks in, according to the Journal-Constitution.

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Ralston announced the testing requirements in a Dec. 30 memo, which outlined best practices for coronavirus control. The statements notes that the required tests are saliva-based PCR tests, meaning no nasal swab is required. Additionally, masks must be worn at all times, with the exception of when a member is addressing the House.

According to the Journal-Constitution, Ralston made an announcement Tuesday morning asking a person in violation of the protocols to leave the chambers.

"We have a member of this body who has deliberate failed at all to be tested as we begin session, clearly in violation of our testing policy, jeopardizing the health of other members of this chamber," Ralston said.

He then asked that the unnamed member discretely exit the chambers. When Clark failed to do so, Ralston had an officer step in.

"The member will be allowed to return upon complying with the policy for the safety of all those who have to come to the Capitol," Ralston’s office said in a statement following the incident. "This is about preventing the spread of a disease that has killed more than 12,000 Georgians."

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Clark asserted while speaking to reporters that others such as first responders and teachers should get tested ahead of him.

 

Journal-Constitution reporter Greg Bluestein tweeted that Clark vowed to return to the House chambers on Wednesday.

"I'm going to show up every day and work for my constituents," Clark said.

Clark and Ralston did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.