Georgia State Senator Brandon Beach (R) was tested for the coronavirus on Saturday after experiencing a cough and a mild fever. But that didn’t stop him from going into work despite directives around the nation to self-quarantine in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has stalled the economy and uprooted the lives of Americans across the country.
Beach’s test came back positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, and the news has forced the entire Georgia senate to self-quarantine until the end of the month.
The Georgia Senate soon released a statement advising its members to self-quarantine.
“Today, Senate members and staff were notified that a senator had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), after first experiencing symptoms on March 10. As a result, and based upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health Dr. Kathleen Toomey and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Senate members and Senate employees have been asked to self-quarantine for fourteen days,” they said in a press release.
The Georgia Senate added that “While not a part of the official recommendation to self-quarantine, members of the public who frequent the Capitol should use their best judgment when making a decision to self-quarantine and should contact their primary care provider if they begin to exhibit any symptoms.”
“We want to protect our members, their families and the individuals they come in contact with daily,” Lieutenant Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) said in a statement of his own. “The special session on Monday was absolutely necessary to ratify the governor’s public health state of emergency, and we tried to take serious precautions to keep members safe while at the Capitol.”
— Geoff Duncan (@GeoffDuncanGA) March 18, 2020
Beach, for his part, says he believed he was “in the clear” on the day he went in for a one-day special legislative session at the Capitol to grant Governor Brian Kemp (R) broad powers to respond to the pandemic.
“I know many Georgians are praying hard as we weather this crisis together, and frankly, I’d ask that they pray for me,” Beach said, “as well as all the others in our state who are going through this right now – and those who soon will.”
Beach’s wife, Shuntel Paille Beach, later took to Facebook to update her husband’s constituents about his condition, saying that his “fever is gone but the deep cough lingers along with the soreness from coughing.”
“He extended a Press Release yesterday, once we were notified to alert any and all that may have been in contact,” she added. “The last thing he would want would be for anyone to be infected.”
Thank you for all the prayers, texts, calls and offers to help. Brandon and I really appreciate it more than you know….
Beach’s decision to keep reporting to work has earned him harsh criticism from at least one colleague.
“I’m shaking with rage. We were told if we had symptoms to refrain from going to the Capitol on Monday. Senator Brandon Beach knew he was exhibiting symptoms since MARCH THE 10TH!” Representative Scot Turner (R) wrote on Facebook. “I have an elderly hospice patient at home. He irresponsibly stayed all day at the Capitol on Monday and exposed all of us.”
I’m shaking with rage.We were told if we had symptoms to refrain from going to the Capitol on Monday.Senator Brandon…
Governor Kemp said Beach’s actions were a “good example of why people need to do what we’re asking them to do.”
“The biggest thing is social distance yourself,” he said. “If you are sick, do not — do not — go out. Stay home until you can figure out what’s going on. Don’t go to the doctor. Don’t show up at the emergency room. Don’t show up at work.”
The coronavirus has infected more than 254,000 people worldwide. The virus is responsible for 10,447 deaths, according to the most recent count, including 218 in the United States alone.