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2nd Montana lawmaker tests positive for COVID; has not been in Capitol
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2nd Montana lawmaker tests positive for COVID; has not been in Capitol

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Republican representatives gather votes

Republican representatives gather votes during the House Republican caucus late last year at the Montana State Capitol.

A second state lawmaker, who has not been in the Capitol this session, has tested positive for COVID-19.

Rep. Fiona Nave, R-Columbus, received a positive test result Monday. Nave has been participating remotely since the session started Jan. 4.

Sen. Jason Ellsworth, a Republican from Hamilton who heads the Legislature's COVID-19 panel, announced the positive test in a press release Monday afternoon.

"Thank you to Rep. Nave for letting leadership know as soon as she received the positive test result," Ellsworth said. "I'm releasing Rep. Nave's name because she authorized the COVID panel to do so in the interest of transparency."

Nave is mildly symptomatic, a spokesperson said Monday, but able to participate over Zoom.

The COVID panel held its first meeting last week and adopted draft rules that said those who test positive should notify their party's leadership. The panel is set to meet again Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. to discuss more protocols.

"As we continue through the legislative session during the pandemic, remote participation remains available for all legislators and members of the public. The COVID panel will continue implementing our plans and precautions for the session," Ellsworth said in the press release.

This is the second lawmaker to test positive for the virus since the start of the session. On Thursday Rep. David Bedey, R-Hamilton, tested positive. He is asymptomatic and had been wearing a mask at the Capitol. Bedey, who contracted the virus outside of the Legislature, went into isolation but has been participating remotely. 

Democrats, who pushed to hold the session entirely remotely or require mask use, have countered Ellsworth in saying sufficient plans to respond to the pandemic are not in place, pointing out after Bedey's positive test that the Legislature did not yet have a contact tracer. One is expected to start soon, though when is unclear.

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