Anyone in the Georgia legislature who had doubts about the importance of self-isolation and social distancing in coping with COVID-19 (and in that Republican–controlled body, there were bound to be some who scoffed at the whole pandemic as a Democratic/Chinese plot) has probably had an attitude adjustment after this incident, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
All of Georgia’s state lawmakers were urged Wednesday to self-isolate themselves for weeks after a state senator who participated in a Monday vote disclosed he tested positive for the disease caused by coronavirus.
State Sen. Brandon Beach said he was screened for the disease Saturday when he sought medical attention for a cough and mild fever, but that the test results didn’t arrive until Wednesday.
In between, the Alpharetta Republican said he felt healthy enough to join dozens of legislators, staff members and reporters for a one-day special legislative session at the Capitol to grant Gov. Brian Kemp broad powers to respond to the pandemic.
That means the 236 members of the Georgia House and Senate were potentially exposed to the coronavirus and are supposed to go into self-quarantine for two weeks.
At least two other legislators were in quarantine after exhibiting symptoms, which means they stayed away from the special session. Some of Beach’s colleagues are very unhappy that he did not take this precaution:
“I’m shaking with rage. We were told if we had symptoms to refrain from going to the Capitol on Monday. Senator Brandon Beach knew he was exhibiting symptoms since MARCH THE 10TH!” wrote state Rep. Scot Turner on Facebook.
“I have an elderly hospice patient at home. He irresponsibly stayed all day at the Capitol on Monday and exposed all of us.”
In this crisis, there is a fine line between blaming victims of coronavirus and insisting on steps to mitigate its spread. But perhaps the spectacle of an entire legislature in quarantine will make Georgians both more cautious and more empathetic.
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