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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - A top Republican Minnesota legislative leader announced today that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka issued a statement indicating he received confirmation of his positive COVID test today. He also stated that he had been in quarantine since he experienced symptoms last Monday and will remain in quarantine until his doctor advises otherwise.

Gazelka says he did not attend the special session of the state legislature convened by Governor Walz last Thursday. His statement says he was away on a scheduled trip, which was extended to avoid breaking quarantine. He went on to say, "we followed CDC and airline requirements during our travel and I am very thankful my wife, Maralee, has tested negative for Covid."

"I am not experiencing major issues or symptoms and I expect like 99 percent of people, I will make a full recovery. We have learned a lot about this virus and how to treat it, we must remain cautiously optimistic that we will find a way to live with it. Our future cannot be prolonged isolation, face coverings, and limited activities. Our children are not learning, our seniors deserved better than to die alone, and the rise in mental health concerns cannot be ignored."

The news about Gazelka's infection follows confirmation late last week from Rochester State Senator David Senjem that he tested positive for COVID-19 a week ago and has been in quarantine since then. Senjem's infection and others involving Republican legislators prompted criticism from Governor Tim Walz and the Chair of Minnesota's DFL party, who complained that the Senate Republican Caucus did not share information about the positive test results with Democrat members of the Senate,
which Gazelka also referenced in his statement.

“Finally, the blaming and shaming of a positive covid diagnosis has got to stop. Senate operations are an essential service and precautions were taken to prevent spreading covid; no one was put at any more risk than any other special session. The deliberate choice to use a covid diagnosis as a political tool to blame just Republicans when community spread is uncontrolled is indicative of failed leadership looking for a scapegoat. Minnesotans deserve better.”

Republican leaders say the notification was limited to those who had close contact with the positive cases and that did not involve anyone outside the Republican caucus members and their staff. It was also noted that the affected Republican lawmakers were not in attendance at the special session.

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