A Democratic Pennsylvania state representative went on a righteous tirade in a 12-minute video after learning that the Republican speaker of the House informed his party but not Democrats that at least one member of his caucus tested positive for COVID-19.
“Every single day of this crisis this State Government Committee in Pennsylvania has met so that their members could line up one after one after one and explain that it was safe to go back to work,” Rep. Brian Sims said on Facebook Live on Wednesday night. “During that time period, they were testing positive. They were notifying one another. And they didn’t notify us.”
According to Sims, Democrats only recently became aware that a Republican colleague tested positive for the virus but continued to work in the capitol for at least a week. Sims angrily yelled into the camera accusing Republicans of endangering members, their staffs, and their families.
“I’m right now surrounded by members that can’t go see their kids, that are having to call their husbands, having to call their wives and saying, ‘Honey, I might have exposed you and everybody I love in the world because one of my colleagues tested positive, but he was protecting his family but not protecting mine, and Republican leadership protected him,'” Sims raged, at times pounding on his desk to emphasize his points.
“Fuck, I’ve spent so much of my time here trying to see beyond the blind, disgusting partisanship, and now that partisanship has grown deadly,” he added.
“Fuck, I’ve spent so much of my time here trying to see beyond the blind disgusting partisanship, and now that partisanship has grown deadly"
— Peter Wade 🤦♂️ (@brooklynmutt) May 28, 2020
Sims went on to call for a “full-blown investigation” by the attorney general and the state secretary of health to determine if it is safe for members to be in the capitol, which he demanded should be scrubbed “from top to bottom.” In addition, he called for everyone who works in the building to get tested and for that testing to be paid for by the Republican caucus. He also called on House Speaker Mike Terzai to resign.
Sims also expressed anger at Republican Rep. Russ Diamond because he self-quarantined but was not tested for COVID-19 after possible exposure.
“Russ Diamond walked around the House floor every day without a mask on,” Sims said. “Just a little bit ago I was on the House floor, and at one point only four Republican members had their masks on. Holy shit!”
Diamond responded to Sims’s accusation on Twitter, writing, “Lefties whine because I self-quarantined but didn’t get tested after possible COVID ‘contact.’ Confirmed by my doc: No reason for testing, even if I could get tested without symptoms. I feel like a million bucks! Well, $500K after lefties tax me.”
Republican Rep. Andrew Lewis issued his response to Sims via Facebook Live and identified himself as the Republican who tested positive for COVID-19 on May 20th, saying that he informed very few people of his diagnosis to protect privacy. Lewis also claimed that he only came into contact with “a handful” of people when he was in the capitol on May 14th, all of whom were notified and, he said, none of them tested positive as far as he knows.
“It’s pretty much a ghost town at the capitol now,” Lewis said. “I actually only interacted with a handful of folks. … Anyone that I interacted with was notified, and I called human resources.”
But the CDC recommends that “employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”
Additionally, Democratic leader Frank Dermody said in a statement that Republicans who may have been in contact with Lewis attended meetings without masks and downplayed the need for people to wear personal protective equipment.
“While we are pleased to learn that this House member seems to have recovered, it is simply unacceptable that some House Republicans knew about this for more than a week and sat on that knowledge,” Dermody said. “This attitude shows a fundamental lack of respect for fellow lawmakers.”