State Rep. David Bedey has tested positive for COVID-19, the Legislature’s coronavirus panel said Thursday night.
Bedey contracted the virus “via a non-legislative, non-Capitol contact that occurred prior to the start of the session,” legislative COVID-19 Panel Presumptive Chair Jason Ellsworth announced. He is asymptomatic and in quarantine.
Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, said in a statement that Bedey contacted legislative leadership and the Lewis and Clark County Health Department immediately after receiving his positive test.
“We’re already reaching out and notifying those who have recently been in close contact with Representative Bedey and are telling them to quarantine,” Ellsworth said in the statement. “I’m releasing Rep. Bedey’s name because he wanted to be as transparent and informative as possible.”
Ellsworth said that Bedey, also a Hamilton Republican, had worn a mask while at the Capitol. However, legislators have not required masks during the session.
“I continue to believe that the most effective way to serve in the legislature is in person,” Bedey said in a statement. “But I also have a duty to my colleagues to do what I can to promote their safety. I will do my best to do the people’s business remotely and look forward to returning to the Capitol.”
Aside from meeting on the floor, Bedey also serves on the House Appropriations Committee, which has met this week.
“The Appropriations room is 6-foot spaced out for just this reason,” the committee’s chair, Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, said in a text.
The COVID-19 panel will meet for the first time this session Friday at 10:30 a.m. and will further discuss coronavirus precautions at that time, according to a statement from Senate GOP. Legislative leadership has discussed implementing testing and contact tracing protocols at the Capitol but has yet to release details.
House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, D-Helena, said in a statement that she will “demand that (her) colleagues finally take seriously the responsibility we have to keep the Capitol safe” when the COVID-19 panel meets Friday.
“I appreciate Representative Bedey’s willingness to inform the public of his exposure and promptly self-isolate, and I hope that he remains asymptomatic and in good health,” Abbott said.
“It is deeply frustrating that this has happened before we as a legislature have established procedures to deal with this unfortunate, yet predictable, situation. Democrats have for months pushed for commonsense COVID protocols — including contact tracing and isolation measures.”
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