The Arizona Legislature will be closed all next week after at least 15 current or future Republican legislators may have been directly exposed to COVID-19 by meeting with Rudy Giuliani.
President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Sunday that Giuliani, his personal attorney, tested positive for the virus less than a week after holding an unofficial hearing at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix on Monday Nov. 30.
Giuliani visited Arizona this past week as one stop on his traveling legal tour alleging there was widespread fraud in the election. Giuliani and fellow Trump attorney Jenna Ellis talked — unmasked — for roughly 11 hours in the hotel ballroom with several lawmakers.
Rep. Mark Finchem, the leader of the election fraud conspiracy committee, along with Rep. Bret Roberts, Rep. David Cook, Rep. Leo Biasiucci, Sen. Sylvia Allen, Sen. David Gowan, Sen. Sonny Borrelli, Senator-elect Kelly Townsend and Senator-elect Nancy Barto were all part of the panel.
Rep. Anthony Kern, Sen. David Farnsworth, Representative-elect Quang Nguyen, Representative-elect Judy Burges, Representative-elect Brenda Barton and Senator-elect Wendy Rogers were also spotted in attendance as well as potentially others.
The next day, Giuliani visited the state capitol and met with several additional lawmakers, including Gowan, Borrelli, Senate President Karen Fann, Senate Majority Leader Rick Gray, House Speaker Rusty Bowers, House Majority Leader Warren Petersen, Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and Sen. Vince Leach.
It’s unclear when Giuliani officially tested positive or when he was exposed, but the average incubation period is about a week making it more likely that he was exposed before Arizona, but still possible he was exposed here. Giuliani was swiftly admitted to Georgetown University Medical Center, according to ABC News.
Arizona, as well as every other state, is going through the worst bout of Covid over the nine months the pandemic has been active in the United States. Arizona reported another 5,376 positive cases on Dec. 6 along with 25 reported deaths bringing the state’s overall total to 364,276 known cases and 6,950 deaths.
Giuliani traveled to Michigan and Georgia after Arizona this past week, likely exposing other legislators as well.
Several lawmakers who attended the unofficial hearing on Nov. 30 also attended the Legislature’s new member orientation later in the week, potentially exposing even more lawmakers and many state government employees. Nguyen, Burges and Rogers were at both events.
Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Sahuarita, said she’s making plans to take a test Wednesday after learning that several of the GOP legislators she attended the orientation with had spent time with Giuliani.
Only one of the nearly dozen new Republican lawmakers consistently wore a mask at the three-day event, though attendees had been assured ahead of time that anyone who chose not to wear a mask would be asked to watch presentations remotely, Dalessandro said.
“I went because I hoped to interact with more of the new Republicans,” she said. “But I didn’t get to do that, because I wouldn’t walk up to their desks, which only had Plexiglas on the sides, not in the front, if they didn’t have a mask on.”
Incoming Republican Rep. Joel John of Buckeye, the lone new Republican to wear a mask through the entire orientation, said he didn’t know some of his new colleagues had been around Giuliani until the Capitol Times called him. He said he’ll continue socially distancing and wearing a mask, and will plan to take a test if he starts experiencing symptoms.
In a Sunday afternoon email sent to all senators and staff and obtained by the Arizona Capitol Times, Senate Chief of staff Wendy Baldo wrote that the Senate will be closed all week “due to COVID-19 concerns and out of an abundance of caution.” At least three interim committee meetings had already been scheduled this week and were expected to proceed in a hybrid format with Republicans and staff in a hearing room and Democrats attending by video; those meetings must be rescheduled remotely according to Baldo’s email.
A House GOP spokesman said the House would follow suit.
Roberts, Kern and likely others who attended the unofficial hearing Nov. 30 plan to hold a “protect the vote” rally at the Capitol on Dec. 7. “It’s a rally to support the legislature calling for decertification of the election results. Legislators will be there,” Roberts tweeted. Kern posted about the rally after Giuliani’s diagnosis was announced.
As COVID rages on, Democratic Rep. Arlando Teller has been hospitalized from the virus for several days and is at least the sixth known lawmaker to test positive since March. Sen. Lupe Contreras, D-Avondale, Rep. Joanne Osborne, R-Goodyear, Rep. Lorenzo Sierra, D-Avondale, Rep. Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix and Rep. Andres Cano, D-Tucson all have tested positive for COVID-19. Sierra was hospitalized in Washington, D.C., and was intubated as well before recovering.