State Watch

Two Oklahoma state lawmakers positive for coronavirus after swearing-in ceremony

Two Oklahoma state lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 following their swearing-in ceremony.

Republican state Reps. Kevin Wallace and Tammy Townley released statements Friday confirming they tested positive for COVID-19, according to The Associated Press.

Their statements come just days after the two recently elected representatives attended a swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol, where many reportedly did not wear masks or practice social distancing.

Wallace, however, said that he tested positive before Wednesday’s ceremony and took his oath privately, away from other members.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health has been working on trace back,” Wallace said in the statement. “I am still asymptomatic and quarantining.”

Townley was at the ceremony and tested positive following the event. She had previously tested positive for antibodies this summer, adding she had “zero reason” to believe she was at risk of transmission.

“I was very surprised to have a positive result, given my prior positive test for antibodies,” Townley said in a statement. “I immediately notified House leadership and am participating in contact tracing efforts.”

State Rep. Emily Virgin, the House Democratic leader, said all members of her caucus wore masks during the ceremony, adding that she is disappointed some Republican colleagues would not follow recommendations from health officials.

“As legislators, I feel like it’s our duty to set a good example. Instead, some of my colleagues continue this narrative that wearing masks is some kind of political statement, when that is a very dangerous narrative for them to continue,” Virgin said.

Wallace and Townley are now the sixth and seventh Oklahoma state lawmakers to confirm they have tested positive for COVID-19.

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) in July became the first governor to report testing positive for COVID-19.

Tags Coronavirus Coronavirus disease COVID-19 Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on politics Kevin Wallace Occupational safety and health Oklahoma Tammy Townley

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