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ATLANTA — Four state senators have tested positive for the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
Last week, the entire General Assembly was urged to self-quarantine after Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, tested positive for coronavirus.
Beach participated in the vote to ratify the governor’s declaration of a public health emergency on March 16 when lawmakers, staff, lobbyists and the media all returned to the Capitol after suspension of the session.
Now, three more senators have tested positive for coronavirus — Sen. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia, Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, and Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta.
Williams posted on her Facebook page Sunday and said she developed a fever the night of March 16; with no tests immediately available, she was tested three days later. After an even longer wait, Williams received a call from a doctor Sunday afternoon that results were positive.
“The positive #COVID19 test result was also a reminder that it’s not just 60-plus-year-olds or people already sick that are testing positive,” Williams wrote on Facebook. “You can get this too. Many of you reading this already have the coronavirus and are showing no symptoms.”
Kirkpatrick posted on Facebook she had developed a fever on March 15. Kirkpatrick said she immediately went into self-quarantine. Her positive coronavirus test results came back Friday.
Kirkpatrick is also a member of Gov. Brian Kemp’s coronavirus task force.
“Although I am in the at-risk age group, I am blessed to be very healthy, and thankful that I am recovering without complications,” she wrote. “I will be happy to have immunity to this awful virus. I have learned a lot from this situation, including how kind my friends, neighbors and relatives are and I want to thank all of them.”
She urged people to follow the recommendations of the state Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thompson posted on Facebook he had been hospitalized in an intensive care unit on March 16 after receiving negative on his first test for coronavirus. After treatment, Thompson was released to go home during the weekend. On Sunday, he received positive test results from his second coronavirus test.
“I have now received confirmation that my coronavirus test came back positive. While I am feeling much better, I plan to remain at home in self-quarantine for the immediate future,” Thompson wrote. “... I ask everyone to join me in doing your part to #FlattenTheCurve and #StayHome as we fight the spread of COVID-19.”
Beach’s decision to attend the special session vote on March 16 angered many lawmakers who said he should have stayed home if he was showing symptoms.
Kemp said during a press briefing that Beach's choice to attend the vote was an example of what not to do.
"This is a good example of why we need people to follow us, our advice, follow the advice of their medical provider, stay home if you are sick," Kemp said during a press briefing on March 17. "If there's any doubt, stay home."
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston encouraged all members to remain in self-isolation for at least 14 days.
Riley Bunch covers the Georgia Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites.