Shirkey tested positive for COVID over the holidays, office says

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
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Lansing — Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey tested positive for COVID-19 over the holidays but is now recovered, his office said Wednesday. 

The Clarklake Republican believed he was exposed to the virus Dec. 19, one day after the Senate's last day of session, but didn't test positive until Dec. 23. 

Shirkey also was present on the House floor on Dec. 21 as Republican former House Speaker Lee Chatfield of Levering gave his farewell speech.

He reported the test to the Senate Business Office after his diagnosis, Shirkey's  spokeswoman Amber McCann said Wednesday. 

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake reacts to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's second State of the State speech in this Jan. 30, 2020, file photo.

"Sen. Shirkey experienced a fever and was fatigued," she said. "He quarantined and recovered at home."  

McCann did not say whether Shirkey had since tested negative for the virus, but she noted a negative test was not a condition for returning to the Senate.

Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, expressed concern over the way legislators were notified of Shirkey's diagnosis. Senators received an email Wednesday from the Senate Business Office informing them that a member had tested positive and the dates provided matched with those Shirkey disclosed to media later in the day. 

Moss said he doesn't doubt Shirkey's exposure date or the fact that it likely occurred after Shirkey was with senators, but he still believes the chamber should have been informed earlier. 

"I’m glad he’s in good health, I’m glad he was there today and I’m glad he’s recovered," he said. "But information sharing is key because we all depend on it to stay safe ourselves.”

Shirkey is the 12th lawmaker to publicly disclose a positive diagnosis. 

In the Senate, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint; Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte; and Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township, have announced they tested positive for the virus. 

Since the pandemic began in March, eight Michigan House members have tested positive, according to data released by the House on Dec. 9, but only seven have revealed their diagnosis. 

State Rep. Isaac Robinson, D-Detroit, died March 29 from an illness his family believed was linked to the virus. 

Two other House members have revealed positive antibody tests, indicating a past infection.

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.

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