Missouri Sen. Andrew Koenig has tested positive for COVID-19, just days after sponsoring legislation that aims to strip local health authorities of the power to impose rules designed to slow the spread of the virus.
The Republican lawmaker confirmed in a text message to Riverfront Times columnist Ray Hartmann that he has tested positive but said he is doing OK.
Koenig, who represents a swath of southwest St. Louis County, is among a group of Republicans who have been outspoken critics of restrictions imposed by county health officials on businesses and individuals.
“Shutting down our economy won’t eradicate the virus,” Koenig was quoted as saying in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story about a package of bills designed to loosen pandemic restrictions. “It’s my choice if I want to risk getting COVID. No one is forcing anybody to stay home.”
I am self-isolating after I have tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, I am experiencing mild symptoms. Out of an abundance of caution, I will be quarantining at home for the next 10 days. I look forward to fully resuming my duties for the people of St. Louis County soon.— Andrew Koenig (@Koenig4MO) January 22, 2021
Senators, including Koenig, were in Jefferson City this week. He and other Republicans have refused to wear masks, decisions that worried other lawmakers and now have legislators scrambling to figure out whether they are at risk. Senate leaders are still deciding if they should suspend operations for the time being.
Before Koenig was identified as having COVID-19, the Missouri Independent reported earlier today Senate leaders were aware one Republican senator had tested positive and were planning a caucus call this afternoon to decide their next steps.
The Missouri House suspended its session for this week after a member contracted the virus. Rep. Kimberly-Ann Collins, D-St. Louis, posted on Monday on Facebook that she had tested positive and did not feel well.
"Do the right thing," Collins wrote. "Follow CDC guidelines. Wear a mask."
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