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Number Of COVID-19 Cases At Montana Capitol Grows

Rep. Ross Fitzgerald (R) - HD17
Montana Legislature

A fifth Montana lawmaker has tested positive for COVID-19. Republican Sen. Ross Fitzgerald last worked in the Capitol in-person February 5. 

Republican leaders announced that Fitzgerald, from Fairfield, got tested for the coronavirus on Wednesday after being identified as a close contact of another unnamed lawmaker who contracted the virus. 

According to the news release, Fitzgerald is asymptomatic. 

Reps. Brian Putnam of Kalispell and Becky Beard of Elliston tested positive in the last week. Two legislative staffers have also tested positive. The Capitol contact tracer had identified 23 close contacts of cases among Democrats, Republicans, lobbyists and staff as of Wednesday. 

An updated number of close contacts was not available Friday afternoon before deadline

All five lawmakers who have contracted the virus since the beginning of the session are Republican, although two of the cases were not associated with the building. Many Republican lawmakers decline to wear face coverings or adhere to social distancing while working in the Capitol. 

Shaylee is Montana Public Radio's Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and covered the 2019 legislative session for the University of Montana's Legislative News Service.
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