SC Politics

South Carolina House Searches For ‘Patient Zero’ Amid Covid-19 Outbreak

Multiple state lawmakers test positive …

Numerous members of the South Carolina House of Representatives are battling coronavirus infections following orientation and organizational sessions held in Columbia, S.C. over the last three weeks – prompting some lawmakers to seek out an elusive ‘Patient Zero’ in the hopes of identifying the source of the outbreak.

Meanwhile other lawmakers criticized House leaders for allegedly failing to take adequate safeguards against the virus …

The legislative outbreak comes amid rising cases across the state and nation – although this news outlet has continued to highlight data that would suggest the virus is not posing a significant threat to younger, healthier citizens.

For example, on Wednesday the national case fatality rate associated with Covid-19 dipped below 2 percent for the first time since March 30, 2020, according to the latest data.

Still, House members are in a tizzy after freshman state representative Sandy McGarry went public earlier this week claiming that she contracted Covid-19 during a November 17, 2020 orientation session in Columbia, S.C.

McGarry said she proceeded to infect ten members of her family including her husband, who remains hospitalized with the virus.

Here is a picture of McGarry and her fellow freshmen caucus members on the steps of the S.C. State House with speaker Jay Lucas the day after she was reportedly infected …

(Click to view)

(Via: S.C. Speaker of the House)

At least four other lawmakers reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 in the aftermath of the orientation session, and this news outlet has learned that at least four additional lawmakers have reportedly tested positive in the intervening weeks – including lawmakers who were present earlier this week at an organizational session of the S.C. House.

We received alarming reports early Friday morning that “dozens” of members of the S.C. House of Representatives had contracted Covid-19, but as of this writing that estimate appears to be inflated.

Sources close to House leadership declined to specify a number, however they did not dispute accounts that “up to a dozen” members had tested positive within the last few days.

On Thursday morning, Lucas’ chief of staff Patrick Dennis sent an email to members indicating he had “been made aware of at least one positive test result for COVID among the House membership during the prior two days organizational session.”

“While the House continues to take as many precautions as possible and encourages all members and staff to also take as many precautions as possible, the possibility of transmission does exist,” Dennis added. “Those who had close contact with the infected person have been asked to quarantine for the period of time recommended by the CDC.”

Dennis’ email did not identify the “infected person.”

Similarly, this news outlet is not disclosing the identity of any elected or appointed officials who test positive for Covid-19 – unless they issue some form of public statement confirming their results.

The only reason we wrote on McGarry’s positive diagnosis was her decision to broadcast the news to her local paper, The Lancaster News.

According to our sources, all of the lawmakers who contracted the virus during the orientation session participated in a dinner in Columbia, S.C. featuring University of South Carolina president Robert Caslen – who confirmed he tested positive for Covid-19 the day before Thanksgiving.

So … is Caslen the “super-spreader?”

Or was he infected by one of the lawmakers who attended the gathering?

While some under the State House dome seem interested in playing the blame game, this news outlet is not pointing fingers.

From what we have been told, the vast majority of lawmakers have taken appropriate precautions regarding the transmission of the virus. In fact, we are told two freshmen members labeled by representatives of rival parties as “super-spreaders” were actually among those who protected themselves the most diligently during the orientation session.

One Democratic lawmaker is unhappy with the House.

State senator Mia McLeod tweeted our original report on the orientation outbreak earlier this week, noting that “it looks like (the White House) isn’t the only super-spreader.”

“Despite our 21.6 percent positive rate, STILL NOTHIN’ from SC House and Senate ‘leaders’ or Henry McMaster,” McLeod added. “Legislators and staff wouldn’t even know about this if it wasn’t for FITSNews.”




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