New: GOP Senate majority leader had COVID-19 over Christmas
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) at “Operation Haircut,” another right-wing protest at the Capitol, May 20, 2020 | Anna Liz Nichols
Updated, 2:51 p.m., 3:06 p.m., and 4:29 p.m. 1/13/21 with a new statement from Shirkey’s spokesperson
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) tested positive for COVID-19 last month, the Advance has confirmed. He was on hand for the first day of the new legislative term Wednesday.
“For your information, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey tested positive for COVID-19 on December 23, 2020. Sen. Shirkey believes his exposure date to be December 19th. He had not been in Lansing since December 18th, prior to testing positive for the virus,” spokeswoman Amber McCann said in an email to reporters Wednesday afternoon. “Sen. Shirkey experienced a fever and was fatigued. He quarantined and recovered at home. Sen. Shirkey reported his positive test result to the Senate Business Office in accordance with Senate policy.”
However, Shirkey was last in the Legislature on Dec. 21 when the House voted on COVID-19 relief and did not always wear a mask.
After several news outlets reported that, McCann issued an updated statement: “Sen. Shirkey mistakenly reported his last day in Lansing as December 18th when it was in fact, December 21, 2020.
“Sen. Shirkey tested positive for COVID-19 on December 23, 2020. Sen. Shirkey believes his exposure date was likely December 19, 2020. That assessment is based on Sen. Shirkey reaching out to others he had been in contact with once he tested positive. Sen. Shirkey experienced a fever and was fatigued. He quarantined and recovered at home. Sen. Shirkey reported his positive test result to the Senate Business Office in accordance with Senate policy and has corrected his timeline with the Senate Business Office.
“Sen. Shirkey was in Lansing on December 21, 2020. He was present on the floor of the Michigan House. Sen. Shirkey wore a mask when he visited the House floor. The Senate requires individuals who test positive to quarantine in accordance with CDC recommendations. The Senate does not require a negative test result to return to the workplace.”
Shirkey also has had at least seven family members who had COVID-19, per MIRS, which first reported the story. McCann previously declined to answer when the Advance asked if a family member had tested positive for COVID-19.
Shirkey has repeatedly slammed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her administration’s executive orders throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and has said that he doesn’t support a statewide mask mandate.
In a news release Wednesday that did not mention his previous COVID-19 test, Shirkey criticized Whitmer for the Department of Health and Human Services for extending its indoor dining ban.
“Today’s announcement is another display of the tone-deaf response we continue to hear from the Governor. Overreach by the Governor has crippled an entire industry and peripheral supply chain businesses,” Shirkey said.
Michigan has more than 525,000 COVID-19 cases and 13,500 deaths.
A Whitmer spokeswoman confirmed that the governor has never tested positive for COVID-19 and her last test was mid-December.
The Senate majority leader is the latest in a list of Michigan lawmakers who have disclosed they tested for positive, including state Reps. John Chirkun (D-Roseville), Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn), Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield), Scott VanSingel (R-Grant), Ann Bollin (R-Brighton Twp.), Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain), Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit) and Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) and Sens. Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Twp.), Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) and Jim Ananich (D-Flint).
State Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt) said in the spring that she believed she had COVID-19, although her test was lost. Rep. Isaac Robinson (D-Detroit), who died in March, presumably died due to health complications caused by COVID-19.
Reporters have repeatedly raised concerns about transparency regarding lawmakers’ health status during the pandemic.
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