Michigan senator reveals positive COVID-19 test after attending Thursday session

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — State Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township, is the latest Michigan lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19, according to an announcement that came a day after she attended the Senate's Thursday session.

The Senate Business Office sent out a notice about LaSata's test result Friday, saying she had been at session and four committee meetings the prior day in Lansing. The southwest Michigan lawmaker had been tested Wednesday, according to the notice. She found out she had the virus Thursday evening.

Sen. Kim LaSata

"When I was informed that I am positive for COVID-19, I couldn’t believe it. I had not experienced any symptoms prior to receiving a test administered during a routine, scheduled medical checkup, and I remain asymptomatic," LaSata said. "Since I had no knowledge that I was exposed to the virus and experienced no symptoms, I attended Senate session and committee hearings as normal on Thursday."

"Upon my diagnosis, I began informing individuals I had been in close contact with and decided to inform my constituents and the public as well to reinforce that COVID-19 is in our community. It is real and can infect anyone."

House Republicans also confirmed Rep. Ann Bollin tested positive for the virus in a notice to reporters who attended a press conference with the Brighton Republican.

LaSata and Bollin's announcements came as Michigan experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and a day after state Rep. Scott VanSingel, R-Grant, revealed that he had tested positive for the virus.

The state House abruptly called off its Thursday session with GOP leadership saying there was "nothing time-sensitive on the floor." 

The Senate had session, which LaSata attended. She also took part in a caucus meeting and meetings of the Appropriations Committee, Insurance and Banking Committee, Health Policy and Human Services Committee and the Energy and Technology Committee, according to the Senate Business Office.

She is unaware of where she contracted COVID-19, according to the Senate Business Office notice.

"Sen. LaSata was tested on 11/11/20 and received a positive result on 11/12/20," the notice from the Senate Business Office said. "She has not experienced symptoms of COVID-19. Senator LaSata is unaware of when she contracted COVID-19 ..."

The Senate Business Office believes "some" individuals had close contact with LaSata and might have a "higher risk of transmission," according to the notice.

"Those who were identified by Sen. LaSata as individuals she may have had close contact with have already been contacted by the Senator and the Senate Business Office and informed of next steps," the Senate Business Office notice said.

LaSata and Bollin become the seventh and eighth state lawmakers to be publicly confirmed to have the virus and the third this month.

State lawmakers are not required to wear masks during legislative meetings, and there have been times in the Senate when multiple lawmakers have talked with colleagues at their desks without masks on.

"Throughout the pandemic, our hospitals and front-line health care workers have asked us all to take personal responsibility by washing our hands frequently, socially distancing and wearing a mask — even if you don’t think you need one. I have done my best to adhere to these recommendations," LaSata said Friday.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said last week he had the virus. 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.

Staff Writer Beth LeBlanc contributed.