Michigan lawmaker positive for virus before Guard training


State Sen. Tom Barrett. (Courtesy: Michigan Senate)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Lansing-area state lawmaker has tested positive for the coronavirus through screening required by his service in the Michigan Army National Guard.

Republican Sen. Tom Barrett, of Charlotte, said he was told the results Sunday afternoon after being tested Friday. The 39-year-old said he was tested because the guard implemented a COVID-19 screening policy for all soldiers one week before they are to depart for training events.

He said he tested positive despite having taken “reasonable precautions.” Videos show him wearing a mask during several legislative hearings last week and the week before.

Barrett sponsored a bill in April that would repeal a law that has given Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer broad emergency powers to act unilaterally during the pandemic. The Senate-passed bill is pending in the House but would surely be vetoed by the governor if it passed.

“Thankfully I do not have any significant symptoms at this time, and I will be self-isolating according to medical guidelines,” he said in a statement. “I have done my best to make contact with those I have been around in the past couple weeks so that they may also seek medical advice. I look forward to resuming my normal work schedule as quickly as possible.”

The Senate informed senators and staff of the positive test.

On Monday, the state House and Senate canceled session meetings and votes for the rest of the week because of Barrett’s test.

Barrett is the third known Michigan state legislator — and first state senator — with a confirmed coronavirus case. A fourth, Democratic Rep. Isaac Robinson of Detroit, likely died of COVID-19 in March, though he was not tested for it, his mother said.

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