Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

Senate GOP spokesperson Amber McCann said Friday that the Senate does not have any new COVID-19 cases to report. 

However, it’s still unclear how many Michigan House members have tested positive for COVID-19 and what risk exists for lawmakers, staff, lobbyists and journalists who have been in legislative buildings recently.

On Tuesday, state Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) shared on Facebook that he tested positive for COVID-19 and will be self-quarantining until at least Oct. 6. He said he believes he caught it in Lansing, but not in the Capitol Building. He has not given any other details.

Journalists and Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns about transparency and safety protocols, similar to reactions at the national level as President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump announced Friday that they have coronavirus.

LaFave on having COVID-19: ‘I’m not gonna have a big rally in the meantime. I’ll wait a little bit.’

State Rep. Greg Markkanen (R-Hancock) has also self-quarantined after he came in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, although House GOP spokesperson Gideon D’Assandro states that Markkanen has tested negative.

Markkanen staff member Christopher Hatton confirmed that Markkanen tested negative for COVID-19 and self-quarantine for the CDC recommended 14-day period, which has since ended. 

D’Assandro said Markkanen’s decision to quarantine was “out of an abundance of caution” and that the representative shared the information through a Facebook post that has since been taken down. 

When asked why the post would have been taken down, D’Assandro said “the post may be faulty memory on my part.”

The Legislature has had several COVID-19 cases since March, with state Rep. Isaac Robinson (D-Detroit) dying of a suspected infection that month. State Reps. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) and Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) said they tested positive, as did state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Potterville). State Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt) said she had symptoms but her test was lost. Several staff members have also been diagnosed.

Secrecy around LaFave’s COVID-19 diagnosis prompts concern from journalists, lawmakers

The Advance asked D’Assandro six times during an email exchange Friday to confirm if any other members of the House tested positive for COVID-19 or decided to self-quarantine.

D’Assandro declined to comment each time. 

When asked a final time if any other members of the House tested positive for COVID-19 or decided to self-quarantine, D’Assandro said “the House will continue to follow CDC guidance and encourage everyone to sanitize surfaces, wash their hands frequently, socially distance and wear a mask.”

House and Senate Republican leadership will continue not to require masks for lawmakers, but they have been required for staff. Associated Press reporter Dave Eggert reports that Senate GOP leadership “remains skeptical that wearing masks prevents infections.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and medical studies support masks as a key tool to prevent COVID-19 spread.