A former state lawmaker who led a prayer in the Tennessee House of Representatives on the final day of the legislative session in June has tested positive for COVID-19.
Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks told the Cleveland Daily Banner on Tuesday he tested positive for the coronavirus, days after he was admitted to a local hospital.
In his statement to the newspaper, Brooks urged residents to take precautions against the virus.
“I am making this statement to ask everyone to wear a mask when in public,” he said. “If not for me, then do it for your family and your loved ones. This is a very dangerous disease. And we can slow this local increase and spread.”
Brooks, a Republican who served in the legislature from 2006 to 2018, visited the Tennessee General Assembly on June 18, when he delivered the invocation in front of the 99-member House.
Before the legislature, he was introduced by Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, who twice shook Brooks’ hand and hugged him. Faison also posed for a photo with Brooks.
On Friday, Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, let his colleagues know about Brooks’ health in an email.
Carter said Brooks had been admitted to the hospital with “double pneumonia” with an initial diagnosis of COVID-19. He said Brooks had eight separate tests that showed he was negative for the virus. At the time of Carter’s email, Brooks was awaiting results from a ninth COVID-19 test.
Carter reminded his colleagues that Brooks served as the House chaplain of the day on June 18.
“Although it is not believed that he was infected with any contagious illness that day, even if he had COVID-19, the incubation period would have expired July 1. Due to these timeframes, no actions are required by members or staff,” Carter concluded.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no legislative staff or lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19. Legislative administration director Connie Ridley said “some individuals” have self-isolated “because of exposure.”
Ridley said the self-isolating individuals, who she declined to identify, citing HIPPA, are “not related to Mayor Brooks.”
Brooks’ presence in the House came the same day the chamber considered and approved a resolution from Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, criticizing the mainstream media for “sensationalizing” reporting on COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, 665 Tennesseans had died from COVID-19.
At the time of the resolution’s passage, the House limited access to its office building and the chamber’s gallery and required staff and any members of the public to wear masks. House Republicans largely avoided wearing masks after returning to Nashville in June to close out the legislative session.
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Reach Joel Ebert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-772-1681 and on Twitter @joelebert29.
Published 5:59 PM EDT Jul 7, 2020