Pa. House Dems outraged with GOP for not informing them of COVID-19 positive member

Tony Romeo
May 27, 2020 - 9:51 pm

UPDATED: May 28, 11:45 a.m.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Democratic state House representatives say they are outraged that they were not immediately notified about a Republican House representative who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. 

Harrisburg-area state Rep. Andrew Lewis (R., Dauphin) released a statement Wednesday saying he was tested for the virus on May 18, and the test came back positive on May 20. 

Lewis said the last day he was in the state Capitol was May 14.

“Out of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed, I chose to keep my positive case private,” Lewis announced in a Facebook post. “Now that I have fully recovered … I feel now is the appropriate time to share this information with the public and my constituents.”

In a Facebook Live video, Lewis said he experienced fatigue, a fever and a light cough.

Related: Sign up for KYW Newsradio's daily newsletter for the latest on the coronavirus pandemic across the Philadelphia region.

House Democrats from Philadelphia said they were stunned by the news. State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler wishes Lewis the best of health, but she said the failure to inform Democratic members is outrageous.

“The fact that our Republican colleagues were so disrespectful is appalling to me,” Fiedler said.

State Rep. Brian Sims responded with a fervent Facebook Live video, calling out GOP members for not notifying House Democrats and jeopardizing their health.

Disclaimer: This video contains graphic language.

“And any member of leadership that has known what was going on, any member of Republican leadership that knew that members were testing positive, that other members were being quarantined and did not tell those of us who were exposed to those members needs to be investigated by the attorney general, and I think that there needs to be prosecutions,” he said.

Sims called for the resignation of House Speaker Mike Turzai.

“It’s not your business to put my life at risk,” Sims continued to shout in his 12-minute diatribe. “It’s not your businesses to put the lives of the children of our members at risk, of the spouses of our members at risk.”

That prompted this response from Turzai.

“You continue to refer to ‘leadership.’ I was not informed," he said. 

Mike Straub, spokesperson for state House Republicans, said CDC and state guidelines were followed.

“And anyone who needed to be notified due to a possible exposure was absolutely notified and has since self-quarantined,” added Straub, while also citing federal HIPAA health privacy rules.

___

KYW Newsradio's Rachel Kurland contributed to this report.