• Republican Pennsylvania state Rep. Andrew Lewis said he had tested positive for coronavirus on May 20, but Democrats in the Pennsylvania House weren't informed until Wednesday
  • Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said by withholding this information, Republicans put the health of most of the House at risk
  • Two other Republican representatives went into self-isolation Wednesday after being informed they came into contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus

Pennsylvania House Democrats accused the Republican leadership on Thursday of trying to hide that a GOP representative had tested positive for coronavirus. It comes a day after the representative in question, Rep. Andrew Lewis, revealed he tested positive for the virus on May 20.

As of Thursday, Pennsylvania had 70,042 confirmed cases and 5,373 deaths from COVID-19.

“Throughout this pandemic, our health officials have reminded us that it is likely many of us will contract COVID-19 and suffer mild, flu-like symptoms,” Lewis said in a statement. “On Monday, May 18, I was tested for COVID-19 and on Wednesday, May 20, I was notified that my test came back positive.”

“I immediately began self-isolation protocol and contacted the House of Representatives, and our caucus Human Resources department. My last day in the Capitol was Thursday, May 14.”

Lewis also said in a Facebook Live video he had been wearing a mask, wasn’t shaking hands and was practicing proper social distancing before he went into self-isolation. However, Democrats voiced frustration they weren’t informed of his diagnosis until Wednesday and were now concerned about their own health.

Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said in a statement: “Knowing how House members and staff work closely together at the Capitol, we should have been made aware of this much sooner. We should not have learned of it from a media report. In the last two weeks alone, there were six days of voting session here at the Capitol and more than 15 separate meetings of House committees voting on dozens of bills. For those members who journeyed to the Capitol in person, each of these meetings raises the risk of possible exposure.”

Dermody said he has been in contact with colleagues to determine if they were in close proximity to Lewis before his self-isolation. He then said he would begin working with the leadership to craft policies to prevent this from happening again.

Two other Republican lawmakers, Reps. Russ Diamond and Frank Ryan, went into self-isolation on Wednesday after being informed they had come into close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. Neither has named the person but said they weren’t experiencing any symptoms.

Cells containing the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 are seen through a microscope
Cells containing the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 are seen through a microscope AFP / BEN STANSALL