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Lawmaker confirmed positive for COVID-19 as House cancels Thursday session

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

State Rep. Scott VanSingel says he feels "fully recovered" from coronavirus after testing positive for the virus in recent weeks.

The Grant Republican said he believed he contracted the virus at church and has not been to Lansing or any political rallies for President Donald Trump since then. 

"It's highly unlikely I have exposed anyone else at this point," he said in an email. 

House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, said "everyone is pulling" for VanSingel and are "glad to hear he is doing well."

"Hopefully, we will see him back at full strength soon," Chatfield said. "Until then, the House is following all CDC guidelines and following all contact tracing procedures to keep people safe."

The disclosure regarding Van Singel's positive test comes a day after the state House canceled its Thursday session because there was "nothing time-sensitive on the floor." 

"Representatives are going to use the time instead to plan for the first full week back," said Gideon D'Assandro, a spokesman for Chatfield. "The COVID response plan is still being worked on and improved in committee," he said. 

Rep. Scott VanSingel

D'Assandro would not comment Wednesday on whether any House members had tested positive for COVID-19, leaving the "announcements on personal health issues up to individual representatives."

House Minority Leader Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, criticized Chatfield's cancellation of session and committee meetings, noting she disagreed on "whether responding to this pandemic is 'time-sensitive.'"

Holding session in the middle of a pandemic would have been possible if the House had developed a system for remote meetings, Greig said. 

“Widespread media speculation that the cancellations were prompted by COVID exposure reminds us all once again that House Republican leadership has failed to take the steps necessary to allow the House to continue functioning safely during this pandemic," Greig said. 

Sen. Dayna Polehanki, during Senate session Thursday, also criticized the Legislature's plans to take an upcoming "hunting break" without action on further COVID-19 response, such as a mask mandate requested by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Polehanki, D-Livonia, mentioned comments from Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, last week when he said the governor’s insistence on a legislative mask mandate while other COVID-19 legislation has passed or was in the works is a “publicity stunt.”

“A legislative stamp of approval on a mask mandate would send a message to the public that lawmakers are taking this seriously so everyone in Michigan would too,” Polehanki said.

“You would think that my colleagues across the aisle would jump at the chance to offer this COVID legislation, especially when they argued for months that they wanted responsibility but were shut out of COVID talks," she said.

VanSingel is the sixth state lawmaker to say publicly that he has the virus. 

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, announced he had the virus last week. Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, tested positive in September; Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, in August; and State Reps. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit, and Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit, in the spring. 

Another lawmaker, Rep. Isaac Robinson, D-Detroit, died on March 29 from an illness that his family believed was linked to the coronavirus.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com