By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
A fifth state senator has tested positive for coronavirus as the respiratory illness eclipsed 1,000 confirmed cases and claimed 40 lives in Georgia Wednesday.
Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, told the Savannah Morning News Wednesday that his test results came back positive after a five-day wait. Jackson said he and his wife requested the test “out of an abundance of caution” after other members of the Georgia Senate tested positive last week.
Jackson said he has shown mild symptoms including a dry cough and has been self-quarantining since returning to Savannah following a one-day special session of the Georgia General Assembly on March 16.
“I’ve not been out at all,” Jackson told the newspaper. “I’m staying away from people. I want to protect family and friends.”
First to publicly announce his COVID-19 diagnosis was Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, whose test results came back positive days after attending the special session. Beach appeared at the Capitol March 16 despite showing mild symptoms the week prior and being tested the preceding Saturday.
His announcement was followed by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-Marietta, who alerted constituents late last Friday that she also had contracted the virus. She did not attend the special session.
Then, Sen. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, who chairs the state Democratic Party, said on Facebook Sunday night that she tested positive after developing a fever last Monday and being tested Thursday afternoon on the top floor of the parking deck of her doctor’s office.
Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, also received confirmation Sunday that he had contracted coronavirus. Thompson was admitted to the hospital earlier this month with respiratory issues and released over the weekend once his condition improved.
In the Georgia House, Rep. Angelika Kausche, D-Johns Creek, told the Johns Creek Herald she has likely contracted coronavirus after her husband tested positive last week. Kausche said she decided to forgo testing since materials needed for the test are in short supply.
Georgia lawmakers hit pause on the 2020 legislative session earlier this month as concerns deepened over the spreading virus. They reconvened briefly March 16 to approve temporary emergency powers for Gov. Brian Kemp.
The novel strain of coronavirus has sickened 1,247 people and led to 40 deaths in Georgia as of noon Wednesday. Many businesses across the state have ground to a halt as workers isolate themselves to help curb the virus’ spread, while several city and county governments have imposed restrictions on gatherings and restaurants.