OLYMPIA — Washington state Senate Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, has announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus, but said he is experiencing few symptoms.
The news Saturday evening comes less than two days before the Legislature begins its 60-day session.
A statement from Senate Democrats said Billig is vaccinated, had his booster shot and “has virtually no symptoms and has been quarantining since Tuesday after he thought he may have been exposed.”
“I am grateful to have been vaccinated and boosted, which I know has prevented me from having any significant symptoms,” Billig, 53, said in prepared remarks.
“I also appreciate that we have the technology in place to facilitate a hybrid legislative session so Senators can fully participate in legislative activities even while they quarantine,” he added. “I do not expect this positive test will keep me from any of my legislative duties as session gets underway next week.”
The announcement comes a day after Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, announced he tested positive for the virus. In a statement Friday, evening Lovick described his symptoms as mild.
“I’m fine, I have a bit of a cold, but other than that I feel OK,” said Lovick, 70. “One thing is for sure — I’m relieved that I’m both vaccinated and boosted.”
The two senators spent last week in different parts of the state and so their cases are not thought to be connected, according to a spokesperson for the Senate Democrats.
Lovick was recently appointed to the Senate to replace Sen. Steve Hobbs, who left his position to become Washington’s secretary of state. Before his appointment, Lovick was a member of the Washington state House of Representatives, where he’d served since 2016. Lovick had previously served in the House from 1999 to 2007. A longtime law-enforcement officer, Lovick was also previously a member of the Mill Creek City Council, as well as Snohomish County’s sheriff and executive.
After conducting 2021’s session remotely, lawmakers had hoped to be doing more work at the state Capitol this year, including for House and Senate floor sessions.
But last week, House leaders announced they were scaling back to a largely remote session amid record levels of coronavirus infections driven by the omicron variant. The Senate followed suit a few days later with a similar announcement.
In December, Republican state Sen. Doug Ericksen, of Whatcom County, died following a coronavirus infection. Ericksen was a staunch conservative and opponent of vaccine mandates.
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