LaFave on having COVID-19: ‘I’m not gonna have a big rally in the meantime. I’ll wait a little bit.’

By: - September 29, 2020 5:49 pm

State Rep. Beau LaFave at the open carry rally at the Michigan Capitol, Sept. 10, 2019 | Claire Moore

State Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-quarantining. The lawmaker, who has been one of Gov. Gretchen Whimter’s most vocal critics about her emergency coronavirus orders, shared the news in a Facebook post

Although LaFave has criticized mask wearing, he told the Advance in a phone interview Tuesday that he wore a mask during recent House proceedings and practiced social distancing at all times.

He does not believe that he acquired coronavirus from the Capitol Building but does believe it happened in Lansing, not in his Upper Peninsula district. However, he would not say where. Earlier this year, LaFave had his guns stolen from his Lansing home.

LaFave said that he doesn’t intend to have contact with anyone until at least Oct. 6.

“I’m not gonna have a big rally in the meantime,” he chuckled. “I’ll wait a little bit. It’s campaign season. I’m going to get out there but I’m not gonna get out there too quick.”

LaFave is one of several members of the Michigan Legislature who have contracted the virus, including state Reps. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) and Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit). Former Rep. Isaac Robinson (D-Detroit) died on March 29 and the virus is believed to have played a factor. State Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt) said she believes she had COVID-19, although her test was lost.

Most recently, state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) also had a bout with COVID-19 over the summer, which led to legislative leaders closing down the Capitol. 

“I’ve never said anything to downplay the seriousness of the virus,” LaFave said. “The only thing that I’ve said is that the people of my district are smart, and they know how to handle themselves and an appropriate way.”

During a July appearance on WKAR’s “Off the Record,” LaFave said, “The masks aren’t going to save anybody.” He also said he’d be “OK” if he got COVID-19.

On March 12, two days after the first COVID-19 cases were found in Michigan, LaFave tweeted, “In an effort to protect the health and safety of the State of Michigan, I’m asking the Democrats to stop holding caucus. No, not to slow the spread of #WuhanCoronavirus, just for the health and safety of the state.”

In July, LaFave introduced HB 6025 to hold the Chinese government accountable for COVID-19, which earned him criticism from lawmakers like state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), founder of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Caucus.

Michigan has had more than 123,000 coronavirus cases and more than 6,700 deaths. There have been reports of COVID-19 surge in the Upper Peninsula in recent days. 

LaFave frequently blasts Whitmer on social media, like in this May 7 tweet.

The Republican told the Advance he stands by his criticism of some of Whitmer’s orders and called them “unnecessary” because the people in his district “were already acting responsibly.” 

“I certainly appreciate the seriousness of this virus and appreciate that the governor was doing what she felt was best. If she had worked with the Legislature, we could have come up with better rules,” LaFave added.

He cited the closing of small businesses as an example. 

“If anything, you don’t want people packed like sardines at Walmart,” LaFave said. “You would want them going to the smaller stores.”

Gideon D’Assandro, spokesperson for Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), said the body did not plan to have session this week.

“One committee was scheduled, and it is being rescheduled out of an abundance of caution,” he said. 

Advance reporter Laina G. Stebbins contributed to this story.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.