A state lawmaker, Hamilton Republican Rep. David Bedey, has tested positive for the coronavirus, legislative leadership said late Thursday.

The diagnosis was disclosed mid-evening Thursday in a press release sent on behalf of Senate President Pro Tempore Jason Ellsworth, who chairs a panel set up to manage COVID-19 concerns as the Legislature conducts a largely in-person session.

Bedey is currently asymptomatic and quarantining away from the state Capitol, Ellsworth said. The release says the representative is thought to have come into contact with the virtus in a non-legislative setting prior to the start of the session.

“We’re already reaching out and notifying those who have recently been in close contact with Representative Bedey and are telling them to quarantine.” Ellsworth said in a statement. “I’m releasing Rep. Bedey’s name because he wanted to be as transparent and informative as possible.” 

Ellsworth also applauded Bedey for choosing to wear a mask at the Capitol and immediately contacting legislative leadership and the Lewis and Clark County Health Department following his positive test.

“Representative Bedey is a model that I encourage others to follow,” Ellsworth said.

“I continue to believe that the most effective way to serve in the legislature is in person,” Bedey said in a statement. “But I also have a duty to my colleagues to do what I can to promote their safety. I will do my best to do the people’s business remotely and look forward to returning to the Capitol.”  

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Eric Dietrich is a journalist and data designer and the founder of the Long Streets economic reporting project. His reporting focuses broadly on Montana’s governance and economic opportunity, with particular focus on the state budget and tax policy. He also contributes data reporting across the MTFP newsroom. Before joining the MTFP staff in 2019, he worked for the Great Falls Tribune, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and Solutions Journalism Network and also earned an engineering degree from Montana State University. Contact Eric at edietrich@montanafreepress.org, 406-465-3386 ext. 2, and follow him on Twitter.