Covid-19 scare: Lawmakers cancel session

Pennsylvania lawmakers in the state House of Representatives decided to cancel their planned session Thursday after a legislator was diagnosed with a coronavirus infection.

Lawmakers cancel session
Rep. Paul Schemel

Rep. Paul Schemel, R-Franklin, announced Thursday that he was in quarantine after he received a positive result from a test for the virus.

“After experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19 yesterday, I took a COVID-19 test today and was informed of a positive result this morning,” Schemel said in a statement Thursday. “Though I was in the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 29, I was experiencing no symptoms. I was not in the Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 30, when I began experiencing symptoms. Upon experiencing symptoms on Wednesday, I began to self-quarantine.”

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House leadership has cancelled their planned session. The announcement came on the heels of Schemel’s diagnosis announcement.

“The member is working with human resources to determine all interactions with other members and staff to track any possible exposures under Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines,” a news release from the office of Speaker Bryan Cutler said. “Those who may have been exposed are being contacted.”

Mask wearing among lawmakers during the pandemic has at times been a thorny issue. Many Republicans have described the Wolf administration’s mandates to wear a mask as unnecessary government intrusion. Some have refused to wear masks on the floor of the House.

Philadelphia Democrat’s social media comments

Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, wrote on Facebook that every member of the House was being instructed to be tested.

“A Republican Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has tested positive for COVID-19 and now every single Member who’s been here in Session while Republicans have tried to steal the elections has to be tested!” Sims wrote. “More than half of the Republicans on the Floor have refused to wear masks and now the entire House of Representatives has been exposed!”

Dave Lemery

Dave Lemery is a regional editor at The Center Square. He is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience. He was the editor of Suburban Life Media when its flagship newspaper was named best weekly in Illinois. Lemery has worked at papers in South Carolina, Indiana, Idaho and New York.

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