Nashville state representative blasts special session after testing positive for COVID-19

By , Daily Memphian Updated: August 27, 2020 7:42 PM CT | Published: August 27, 2020 3:44 PM CT

State Rep. Bill Beck announced Thursday, Aug. 27, he tested positive for COVID-19 less than two weeks after attending a legislative special session and slammed state leaders for holding the three-day event.

Beck, a Nashville Democrat, is the fifth legislator known to have the virus, including House Minority Leader Karen Camper of Memphis. She left the special session on its first night, Aug. 10, after feeling ill but was never hospitalized and is back to 100%, according to her office.

Elected official recuperating after catching COVID-19

Beck said he immediately self-isolated when he started experiencing symptoms Sunday, Aug. 23, and underwent a test Monday at the Nashville COVID-19 assessment center at Nissan Stadium.

The symptoms started, he said, 11 days after the end of the special session called by Gov. Bill Lee to consider bills to clamp down on unruly protesters, give businesses immunity to COVID-19 lawsuits and approve a telehealth insurance system.

“I took great pains to be as safe as I could since COVID-19 first became a threat to Tennesseans, following all medical guidelines to minimize the spread of this debilitating virus, such as social distancing and wearing a mask,” he said.

<strong>Karen Camper</strong>

Karen Camper

“ Unfortunately, staying safe is a group effort, and the General Assembly failed as a whole to follow the medical advice of wearing a mask and social distancing while in Nashville for the special session.” 

While Beck wore a mask during the proceedings, many legislators, most of them Republicans, declined to cover their mouths and noses.

Beck pointed out all “essential government business” was completed by the General Assembly in its regular session and that he and others felt the special session was unnecessary and “highly risky.”

“We have been proven right on both accounts. I will be shocked if I am the only member who caught COVID-19 while attending a special session that did nothing but provide businesses with immunity from legitimate COVID-19 lawsuits and criminalize the right of our citizens to peacefully assemble and protest their government,” he said in the statement.

He urged everyone to wear masks any time they leave their house to protect themselves and others.

Hamilton County state representative hospitalized with COVID-19

In addition to Beck and Camper, state Rep. Gary Hicks, a Rogersville Republican; state Rep. Mike Carter, a Hamilton County Republican; and state Rep. Kent Calfee, a Kingston Republican, have said they tested positive for the virus.

Carter did not attend the session and was hospitalized for several days. He said Thursday on Twitter he is out of the hospital and feeling better.

Calfee had tested positive weeks before the session and attended the meetings. Hicks announced last week he tested positive last week after going to the session.


Bill Beck Karen Camper Mike Carter
Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a Nashville-based reporter with more than 30 years of journalism experience as a writer, editor and columnist covering the state Legislature and Tennessee politics for The Daily Memphian.


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