Out Pol Brian Sims Calls Republicans 'Callous Liars' in Not Reporting Colleague's Positive COVID-19 Status for a Week

by Robert Nesti

EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor

Friday May 29, 2020

After one of his colleague's withheld his positive COVID-19 status for week, out Pennsylvania pol Brian Sims lashed back.

Rep. Andrew Lewis, a Republican state legislator from Pennsylvania tested positive for COVID-19 on May 20, but didn't tell his Democratic colleagues until yesterday, reports CNN.

"On Monday, May 18, I was tested for COVID-19 and on Wednesday, May 20, I was notified that my test came back positive. I immediately began self-isolation protocol and contacted the House of Representatives, and our caucus Human Resources department. My last day in the Capitol was Thursday, May 14," Lewis wrote.

His news hasn't sat very well with his Democratic colleagues, including out legislator Brian Sims who shared his anger on Facebook Live last night.

Lewis says he didn't notify his colleagues "out of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed."

As CNN notes, this is not the way it is supposed to be, and Democratic response was quick and to-the-point.

"Knowing how House members and staff work closely together at the Capitol, we should have been made aware of this much sooner," said Pennsylvania House Democratic leader Frank Dermody. "In the last two weeks alone, there were six days of voting session here at the Capitol and more than 15 separate meetings of House committees voting on dozens of bills. For those members who journeyed to the Capitol in person, each of these meetings raises the risk of possible exposure."

Sims brimmed with anger in his 12-minute rant, reports Rolling Stone, at times pounding his desk for emphasis.

"I'm right now surrounded by members that can't go see their kids, that are having to call their husbands, having to call their wives and saying, 'Honey, I might have exposed you and everybody I love in the world because one of my colleagues tested positive, but he was protecting his family but not protecting mine, and Republican leadership protected him,'"

"Sims went on to call for a 'full-blown investigation' by the attorney general and the state secretary of health to determine if it is safe for members to be in the capitol, which he demanded should be scrubbed 'from top to bottom,'" writes Rolling Stone. "In addition, he called for everyone who works in the building to get tested and for that testing to be paid for by the Republican caucus. He also called on House Speaker Mike Terzai to resign."

Sims also criticized another Republican colleague, Russ Diamond, who self-quarantined, but did not test for COVID-19 after an exposure.

"Russ Diamond walked around the House floor every day without a mask on," Sims said. "Just a little bit ago I was on the House floor, and at one point only four Republican members had their masks on. Holy shit!"

Diamond responded on Twitter:

Lewis responded to Sims on Facebook Live, claiming he only had contact with a "handful" of people when he was int eh capitol on May 14, all of whom were notified and none tested positive for COVID-19.

"It's pretty much a ghost town at the capitol now," Lewis said. "I actually only interacted with a handful of folks. ... Anyone that I interacted with was notified, and I called human resources."

"But the CDC recommends that 'employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),'" adds Rolling Stone.

Sims is the first openly gay legislator elected in Pennsylvania.

He also cited a political reason behind Lewis's action:

"Sims notes that the Republicans did not let the Democrats know that they had been exposed to the virus, arguing that such a revelation would hurt their argument to reopen the state," writes a report on the website EcoWatch.

Having recently given a kidney to a neighbor suffering from renal failure, Sims felt personally endangered by Lewis's actions.

"I didn't donate my kidney to save someone else's life so I could die at the hands of Republicans who are being callous liars," Sims said.

Watch Sims's video below:

Robert Nesti can be reached at [email protected].

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