Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz took to Twitter Saturday to sharply criticize the state Senate GOP caucus for not sharing news of an outbreak in its ranks.
On Tuesday, a memo to Republican state senators and staffers from Senate Republican chief of staff Craig Sondag disclosed that “a number of [GOP Senate] members and staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19.”
“COVID-19 doesn’t operate along party lines, and neither can we,” Walz said in a tweet. “If we know of a positive case, we have a moral obligation to share that information with others so they can protect themselves and their families. I do not understand why Senate Republicans chose to share positive cases only with members of their own party, putting staff and other senators at risk. We must put aside our differences and look out for our neighbors. At the end of the day, we‘re all Minnesotans.”
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, defended the lack of disclosure by tweeting, “No DFL member was at our caucus meeting, and we followed MDH and CDC recommendations for social distancing, masks, and limiting time together during session so no one was put at risk. It’s time to stop blaming us and politicizing this, and work together to keep Minnesotans safe.”
The e-mailed memo, which was first reported by Minnesota Public Radio, did not reveal the names of those with positive tests and instructed all GOP Senate staffers to work from home. Late Thursday, GOP caucus spokeswoman Rachel Aplikowski confirmed that Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, learned he had tested positive for COVID-19 Monday night and is in quarantine. Days before Senjem’s saliva test, he attended the Nov. 5 GOP caucus meeting in St. Paul.
In an e-mailed statement on Saturday, Aplikowski stressed that the only people in close, prolonged contact with COVID-positive GOP Senators were GOP Senators and some GOP staff. The statement said that no one from the Republican caucus with a known positive COVID test or COVID symptoms attended the Senate’s special session on Thursday.
On Friday, MPR also reported that Sen. Paul T. Anderson, R-Plymouth, has tested positive for COVID-19.
DFL legislators who previously have tested positive include Sen. Dan Sparks of Austin, Rep. Fue Lee of Minneapolis and Rep. Rena Moran of St. Paul.