A Michigan GOP lawmaker who opposes coronavirus restrictions tested positive for COVID-19. It hasn't changed his mind.

insider@insider.com (Connor Perrett)
·3 min read
Michigan Sen. Tom Barrett
Michigan Sen. Tom Barrett announced Sunday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Sen. Tom Barrett

  • Michigan state Sen. Tom Barrett tested positive for the novel coronavirus, he announced Sunday.

  • Barrett, a Republican, had positioned himself as a staunch opponent of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's coronavirus mitigation restrictions during the pandemic, sponsoring legislation to reduce her authority.

  • While states nationwide experience protests over their governor's migration measures, the Michigan governor faced some of the strongest and most notable backlashes.

  • Despite his diagnosis, Barrett told the Detroit Free Press that his opinions about Whitmer remained unchanged, adding "how we govern our state is not something that should change based on someone's unique circumstances, like mine."

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A Republican state senator in Michigan tested positive for the novel coronavirus over the weekend after months of positioning himself as a staunch opponent to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's coronavirus mitigation efforts.

Michigan Sen. Tom Barrett, who represents the state's 24th district, announced Sunday he tested positive for the coronavirus but did not have "any significant symptoms" and would be self-isolating at his home "according to medical guidelines."

Earlier this year, the 39-year-old sponsored legislation to repeal a 1945 law that the governor has used to maintain a state of emergency, to limit state business operations, and to require face masks in public as means to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Barrett also sponsored a bill passed by the Michigan House of Representatives Senate to reduce the governor's authority to issue a state of emergency or disaster declaration from 28 days to 14 days, according to Michigan Advance. Whitmer vetoed that bill.

Barrett told the Free Press he had been "pretty rigid" about wearing a mask and tested positive as part of a required screening before a training event as part of his work with the Michigan Army National Guard.

Two other Democratic lawmakers in Michigan have tested positive and recovered from COVID-19, but Barrett is the first Republican to announce a positive test, according to The Detroit Free Press. Detroit Rep. Isaac Robinson, a Democrat, did not test positive for the virus but is believed to have died from it after he went to the hospital with breathing problems on March 29, Crain's Detroit reported.

"We can both grieve for the loss of life and still protect our system of government," Barrett said during an April 24 Senate session, the Michigan Advance reported. "Those two are not mutually exclusive."

Michigan protest .JPG
A militia group from Michigan in front of the governor's office.

Seth Herald/Reuters

Barrett told the Detroit Free Press that his diagnosis had not changed his opinions about the governor's restrictions. 

"How we govern our state is not something that should change based on someone's unique circumstances, like mine," Barrett told the Detroit Free Press, adding that he remains opposed to "perpetuating a state of emergency that concentrates all political power under one person."

While protests against state stay-at-home orders and similar mandates occurred throughout the US during the months of April and May, opposition to Whitmer's response to the pandemic was some of the loudest nationwide. When Whitmer announced an extension of her stay-at-home order until May 15, hundreds of protesters descended on the state legislature while it was in session, some armed with rifles and other weapons.

As of Sunday, there have been 82,782 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan and more than 6,200 deaths, data from the Michigan Department of Health showed.

Read the original article on Business Insider