Pa. House member tests positive for COVID-19, in-person activities suspended

Written by on October 1, 2020

Pa. House member tests positive for COVID-19, in-person activities suspended

By Sam Dunklau, WITF

October 1, 2020

The state Capitol building in Harrisburg. (Tom Downing/WITF)

State lawmakers are temporarily suspending in-person activities at the Capitol after a Republican state lawmaker tested positive for the COVID-19.

Reporting for WLVR, Sam Dunklau reports the development comes as lawmakers have sparred with the Wolf administration about its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

GOP Representative Paul Schemel of Franklin County says he tested positive after “feeling mild symptoms” yesterday.

He says he was at the Capitol on Tuesday, but was asymptomatic. It’s unclear right now who else he might have had contact with that day – since it’s possible he may have passed it along to other people.

The House Republican caucus says Schemel is quarantining and that contact tracing efforts are underway.

Spokesman Jason Gottesman says lawmakers are moving quickly to contain any spread:

“You know, we have social distancing and COVID-19 protocols that we are following, and we are making sure that people remain safe and today is an example of those protocols in action.”

Several Republican lawmakers have resisted wearing masks – in defiance of recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.

The caucus insists it’s taking the pandemic seriously, though they have argued for weeks that Pennsylvania should ease its restrictions.

Schemel’s positive test comes right as members depart for a two-week recess.

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