Updated: VanSingel, Bollin contract COVID-19

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives her Fiscal Year 2020 budget presentation as Reps. Sue Allor, Tommy Brann and Scott VanSingel look on | Casey Hull
Updated, 5:53 p.m., 11/12/20

Reps. VanSingel (R-Grant) and Ann Bollin (R-Brighton) are the latest state lawmakers to have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Rep. Scott VanSingel

VanSingel confirmed Thursday that he is recovering from the disease and told the Free Press he has been sick for about two weeks, but has not been to Lansing since his diagnosis. 

House leadership announced Wednesday that Thursday’s session and committee meetings would be canceled, which has caused concern from some lawmakers that there could be new COVID-19 cases in the Capitol.

VanSingel told the Free Press he couldn’t share whether or not any of his colleagues have COVID-19, but added that he “will not be the last case.”

WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids confirmed that Bollin has coronavirus.

The TV station said there are concerns within the House GOP caucus that several lawmakers may have been exposed to COVID-19 at “a large post-election party” last Saturday at the home of state Rep. Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Twp.). No cases have been linked to the party yet, according to WOOD-TV.

On her Facebook page last week, Bollin made unfounded allegations of election fraud, WHMI-FM reports. President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in Michigan by roughly 150,000 votes. Bollin accused Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, both Democrats, of “hijacking our elections under the cloak of democracy and transparency and using COVID-19 as an excuse.”

Rep. Ann Bollin

A number of lawmakers have announced they tested positive for the coronavirus, including Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain), Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit), Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint).

Rep. Isaac Robinson (D-Detroit) died on March 29 and the virus is believed to have played a factor. State Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt) said she believed she had COVID-19, although her test was lost. 

House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) spokesman Gideon D’Assandro said it is up to each member of the Legislature to announce personal medical information.

“If and when an employee reports a positive test, the house has a detailed contact tracing program in place, following all CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines,” D’Assandro said. 

State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.) took to Twitter to share his frustration with the GOP’s handling of COVID-19 in the Capitol.

I hope Rep. VanSingel recovers soon. But let’s be clear: COVID cases are spiking and the House cancels session because there are likely more GOP members infected,” Camilleri tweeted. “But we can hold an emergency hearing to question with no evidence the results of the election?”

Republicans cancel Thursday House hearings, Dem leader concerned about COVID-19

That’s referring to a joint House and Senate Oversight hearing that was called on Saturday looking into Republicans’ unfounded allegations of election regularities. President-elect Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump by 146,999 votes.

“It’s always politics over public health for them. They demanded authority during this pandemic, got it and now don’t want the responsibility of making tough decisions. We’re in for a bad couple of months,” Camilleri added.

House Democratic Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) said Republican leadership “has failed to take the steps necessary to allow the House to continue functioning safely during this pandemic.”

“Imagine how different things would have looked for the Legislature and the people of Michigan if the House had approved, rather than ignored, Democrats’ plan for remote participation at the start of this public health crisis,” Greig said. “

Allison Donahue
Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.