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Legislature cancels session after lawmaker tests COVID positive

The state House and state Senate have canceled plans for in-person meetings this week in Lansing. That’s after a Republican lawmaker tested positive for COVID-19. Senator Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) said he’s not experiencing significant symptoms, but is self-isolating. 

“I have done my best to make contact with those I have been around in the past couple of weeks so that they may also seek medical advice,” Barrett said in a written statement. “I look forward to resuming my work schedule as quickly as possible.”

Senate Republican majority spokeswoman Amber McCann said the week off will allow the chamber to be thoroughly cleaned, and for lawmakers and staff to get tested and wait on the results.

“So in order for that time to take place,” she said, “we’re going to cancel session and committee this week.”
McCann said plans for next week are still under consideration.

Republicans have clashed with Governor Gretchen Whitmer over the pace of allowing schools and businesses to re-open.

Barrett is the first Republican state lawmaker with a publicly confirmed positive test result. In March, Democratic state Representative Isaac Robinson died from a suspected coronavirus infection.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said Barrett was the first state lawmaker with a publicly confirmed positive COVID-19 test. That was incorrect. Two Detroit Democrats, state Representatives Tyrone Carter and Karen Whitsett, tested positive for COVID-19 early on in the pandemic and have recovered.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.