Rep. Beck blames ‘highly risky’ special session for COVID-19 infection

Democratic state Rep. Bill Beck of Nashville is the latest House member to test positive for COVID-19. The lawmaker is blaming a “highly risky” special legislative session for his infection.

Lawmakers attend a House floor session in Nashville on March 16, 2020. Watching from the gallery are, from left, Reps. Johnny Garrett (R-Goodlettsville), Bob Freeman (D-Nashville), and Bill Beck (D-Nashville). (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

“Unfortunately, staying safe is a group effort and the General Assembly as a whole failed to follow the medical advice of wearing a mask and social distancing while in Nashville for the special session,” Beck said in a statement Thursday. “I and many others said this special session was unnecessary and highly risky. We have been proven right on both accounts.”

House Minority Leader Karen Camper (D-Memphis) disclosed she had tested positive after leaving the special session due to feeling ill. Others who have come down with COVID-19 include Reps. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville), Kent Calfee (R-Kingston), and Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah). Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) said he did not attend the special session because he had been exposed to COVID-19, but refused to say whether he had tested positive. Former Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland), now the mayor of his hometown, tested positive after serving as pastor of the day on the last day of the regular session in June.

Beck’s full statement follows.

In the interest of public health awareness, I must inform you that on Tuesday August 25th, I received the results that I had tested positive for COVID-19. I began experiencing symptoms on Sunday, August 23rd. I immediately self-isolated for the rest of the day and went to be tested first thing Monday morning, August 24th, at the drive-through Metro Nashville COVID-19 Assessment Center at Nissan Stadium. I would like to thank the hard-working staff and volunteers of all assessment centers in Nashville and across the state. Their dedication, professionalism, and efficiency on the frontlines of helping fight the spread of COVID-19 is to be commended.

I began experiencing symptoms eleven days after the end of the legislative special session called by Governor Lee. I took great pains to be as safe as I could since COVID-19 first became a threat to Tennesseans, following all medical guidelines to minimize the spread of this debilitating virus, such as social distancing and wearing a mask. Unfortunately, staying safe is a group effort and the General Assembly as a whole failed to follow the medical advice of wearing a mask and social distancing while in Nashville for the special session.

All essential government business had been completed by the General Assembly in our regular session. I and many others said this special session was unnecessary and highly risky. We have been proven right on both accounts. I will be shocked if I am the only member who caught COVID-19 while attending a special session that did nothing but provide businesses with immunity from legitimate COVID-19 lawsuits and criminalize the right of our citizens to peacefully assembly and protest their government.

I implore all of you to wear a mask anytime you leave your house, not only for your protection but also for the protection of others. Without a mask, you could be a spreader of this incapacitating virus, even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms. We’re all in this together. This horrific virus can be spread by and attack anyone, regardless of income level, social standing, or political party. The more vigilant we are about denying this devastating and sometimes lethal virus a host, the quicker we can all get back to the normality of safely working, visiting friends and family, eating at our favorite restaurants, and attending sporting events in person.

I will continue to follow the CDC guidelines and the advice of my healthcare providers. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers and respect for my family’s privacy while I recover from this potentially deadly virus.” 

25 Responses to Rep. Beck blames ‘highly risky’ special session for COVID-19 infection

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.