Rep. Brian Sims has accused Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives of hiding COVID-19 diagnoses and exposures for political gain.
The gay Democrat, who represents the 182nd District in Philadelphia, eviscerated his GOP colleagues Wednesday in a fiery 12-minute Facebook video, blasting them for putting House members at risk during in-person sessions.
"Every single day of this crisis this State Government Committee in Pennsylvania has met so that their members could line up one after one after one and explain that it was safe to go back to work," Sims said. "During that time period, they were testing positive. They were notifying one another. And they didn’t notify us."
Just prior to Sims's social media posts, State Rep. Andrew Lewis, a Republican, released a statement saying he tested positive for COVID-19 on May 20 and that he had notified the House of Representatives. However, Democrats said they were kept in the dark.
Additionally, Republican Rep. Russ Diamond, an ardent advocate for reopening the state and an opponent of contact tracing and mask-wearing, had also been self-quarantining but had not informed his colleagues across the aisle, said Sims.
"Of course he didn't explain that to any of us when he was in committee talking with us, walking up and down the aisle, bumping into us or letting us hold the door for him, " said Sims, who added, "I need to know if it is safe for us to be back in this building."
"I never thought I would find myself in a place where partisanship became deadly," Sims said.
Rep. Kevin J. Boyle, Democratic chair for the House State Government Committee, penned a letter to Pennsylvania's attorney general requesting a formal investigation into why Lewis or GOP leaders did not inform House members of the diagnosis.
"lf it was known on May 20th that member(s) were either positive or in quarantine, we needed to know that on May 20th. Instead, we heard about it on May 27th from the Associated Press," Boyle wrote. "We absolutely need to know more about what circumstances lead to this ill-advised decision by House Republican leadership."
"Crucially, we also need to know if any state laws or ethics rules were violated, and why [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and Department of Health rules were not adhered to. There needs to be transparency about this," he added. "Without this notification, testing and contact tracing is beginning a week late — and exposed members are already potentially contagious and able to spread COVID-19 to members on the floor, family, and constituents in their districts."
Watch Sims's video below.