Note: This story was last updated at 9:15 p.m.
Tennessee Representative Kent Calfee, a Republican whose district includes west Oak Ridge, and his wife Marilyn have tested positive for COVID-19, the legislator said Friday.
Calfee announced the diagnoses on his Facebook page. He said Marilyn tested positive for COVID-19 recently, and then he was tested this week. The results came back this afternoon, and they were positive, Calfee said.
“At this time, I am not experiencing any symptoms, and I have been self-isolating,” Calfee said. “I wanted to inform you of my positive test, so you could also take additional precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe, if you feel they are necessary. I have also notified legislative administration in Nashville, so they can take any additional precautions in accordance with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to maintain a safe working environment for all within the Cordell Hull Building.”
Calfee, who is from Kingston, represents the 32nd District in the Tennessee House of Representatives. That includes parts of Roane and Loudon counties, including west Oak Ridge.
“At this time, I ask for your continued prayers as Marilyn undergoes Covid-19 treatment,” Calfee said. “My first responsibility is to her and to continue to serve as a faithful husband during these challenging times in both of our lives.”
The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville reported that Calfee’s diagnosis was one of the first two positive COVID-19 tests for a lawmaker or legislative staff member.
Calfee, 71, was in the Cordell Hull Legislative office building as recently as last week, when he attended two days of Joint Government Operations Committee meetings, the Tennesseean said. Only a few lawmakers on the 24-member committee wore masks.
The Tennessean said Calfee’s test results were announced as lawmakers are considering returning to Nashville for a special session and just days after Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks, who led a prayer in the House on June 18, tested positive for COVID-19.
On Twitter, Representative Gloria Johnson, a Knoxville Democrat, said she was in a Government Operations meeting last week for 10 hours with Calfee. She said she wore a mask to protect her colleagues, but no Republicans, including Calfee, wore a mask.
Johnson, who said she hopes Calfee and his wife Marilyn overcome the virus, said she is careful to protect her health because she has limited capacity in her left lung and has had aortic valve replacement.
“I try as hard as I can to always practice social distancing and always wear a mask,” Johnson said. “I’m not perfect, but I usually am when in Nashville. This puts all the staff who have to be there at risk also. Staff all wear masks. The Republican legislators should have respect for others.”
Calfee has posted pictures on his Facebook page showing himself at various events, such as one at the Loudon County Republican Party headquarters in late June, without a mask and not maintaining a distance from other people. Public health officials say wearing a mask and maintaining a distance of six feet or more from people outside your home are two of the steps that can help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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