Rudy Giuliani was admitted Georgetown University Medical Center after testing positive for COVID-19.
PHOENIX – The Arizona Legislature will close for a week “out of an abundance of caution” after Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, possibly exposed several Republican lawmakers to COVID-19.
The president announced Giuliani had tested positive for the virus Sunday afternoon, less than a week after the former New York City mayor visited Arizona as part of a multistate tour aimed at contesting 2020 election results. The 76-year-old was later admitted to Georgetown University Medical Center.
Giuliani had spent more than 10 hours discussing election concerns with Arizona Republicans — including two members of Congress and at least 13 current and future state lawmakers — at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix last Monday. He led the meeting maskless, flouting social distancing guidelines and posing for photos.
Giuliani also met privately with Republican lawmakers and legislative leadership the next day, according to lawmakers’ social media posts.
.@RudyGiuliani, by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, and who has been working tirelessly exposing the most corrupt election (by far!) in the history of the USA, has tested positive for the China Virus. Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2020
And Democratic legislators noted Sunday evening that some representatives-elect who’d attended the Hyatt event attended an orientation for new lawmakers later in the week, possibly exposing additional legislators and Capitol staff.
Following those reports, Democratic state Sen. Martín Quezada called the chain of potential exposure “the epitome of COVID-19 irresponsibility.” Addressing Republican lawmakers, he said: “You owe it to the very people who work in the Capitol buildings to be better than this.”
Later Sunday evening, Trump’s team released a statement saying Giuliani had tested negative before traveling to Arizona and “did not experience any symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 until more than 48 hours after his return.”
Those infected with COVID-19 can get a negative test result early in the virus’ incubation period, which ranges from 3-14 days. Exactly when Giuliani got exposed remains unclear.
GOP lawmakers were largely silent on the potential Arizona repercussions of Giuliani’s diagnosis Sunday evening, though a few tweeted well-wishes.
Republican state Rep. Jeff Weninger was an exception, tweeting: “For crying out loud, stop politicizing COVID.”
“Some of you need to take it more seriously than you are taking it,” he wrote. “And some of you are literally trolling Twitter and hoping for news about others that you can take advantage of.”
Minutes later, Democratic state Rep. Arlando Teller announced his mother had died of COVID-19. Teller also was infected with the virus and has been hospitalized for several days.
Met today with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen Presidnet Fann, Speaker Bowers, Senators Ugenti-Rita, Gowan, Borelli, Gray, and Rep Petersen. pic.twitter.com/XcuvoAzuXe
— Vince Leach (@VinceLeach) December 2, 2020
Hearing, private meetings meant hours of possible exposure
Giuliani began traveling the country baselessly claiming widespread fraud and questioning the integrity of the electoral system following Trump’s failed reelection bid.
GOP Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs attended Giuliani’s Phoenix meeting, sitting behind the former New York City mayor.
State Sens. David Gowan, Sonny Borrelli and Sylvia Allen and Reps. Mark Finchem, Bret Roberts, Nancy Barto, Leo Biasiucci, David Cook and Kelly Townsend sat together on a panel at the front of the room. A handful of other GOP legislators were in the audience.
All spent hours listening to Giuliani question multiple “witnesses” — who were not placed under oath — about how elections can be infiltrated and why they thought Arizona’s election results may have been compromised.
Some state GOP lawmakers scheduled to take office next month, such as Rep.-elect Judy Burges and Sen,-elect Wendy Rogers, also attended. Audience members were spread out, but a photo posted by the Arizona Republican Party showed many participants, including Giuliani and Trump legal adviser Jenna Ellis, posing close together for a group photo.
On Tuesday, Giuliani met with more Arizona Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Rusty Bowers, House Majority Leader Warren Petersen, Senate President Karen Fann, Senate Majority Leader Rick Gray and Sens. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and Vince Leach, according to Leach and Petersen.
State GOP Rep. Cook said Sunday that he and his family had tested negative for COVID-19 Thursday and were feeling “fine.” It was not immediately clear whether any other Republicans who rubbed shoulders with Giuliani had been tested or were quarantining after learning of Giuliani’s diagnosis.
Trump’s team said no state legislators or members of the press were “on the contact tracing list.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines advise those who were within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more to quarantine.
Orientation may have exposed others
At least three newly elected lawmakers who attended the Hyatt meeting also attended a new member orientation for legislators late last week, according to Democratic state Sen. Andrea Dalessandro.
She said only one Republican representative-elect who attended the meeting wore a mask.
In a tweet Sunday night, Dalessandro wrote that she was “not ill” but planned to “stay home and get tested later this week.”
Several other Democratic lawmakers reacted to the news late Sunday, with state Rep. Jennifer Longdon calling the Hyatt event and the resulting exposure “incredibly irresponsible.”
State Sen. Victoria Steele tweeted: “This is not negligence. It is willful, deliberate, endangerment of others.
Meanwhile, Trump election lawyer Ellis called the Capitol closure “absolutely unnecessary,” retweeting a post from a conservative cable anchor contending the House speaker “needs an excuse to give his angry constituents about why he’s refusing to call a session and examine the fraud in his state.”
“Call Rusty Bowers in AZ and tell him not to use COVID as an EXCUSE!!” Ellis wrote.
The Arizona Republican Party tweeted, simply: “Get back to work, Rusty!”
Six state lawmakers have publicly announced positive COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began. Including Teller, two have been hospitalized and at least two have lost relatives to the virus.
Contributing: Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic
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