BISMARCK — North Dakota Sen. Terry Wanzek said he was "run out" of the state Capitol building in Bismarck after receiving a positive COVID-19 test result on Monday, Jan. 18.
The Jamestown Republican took a rapid test upon arriving at the Capitol on Monday morning and left the building after just 5 minutes when a test-taker tracked him down with a positive result. The longtime lawmaker shared the news while tuning in remotely to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Wanzek, 63, said he first noticed a cough on Friday or Saturday but didn't think much of it. He told Forum News Service he's not sure where he contracted the virus. Wanzek said he's a bit worried about having the virus because he's a Type II diabetic, but he noted that he's currently experiencing only cold-like symptoms.
The legislator said he doesn't believe he has any close contacts in the Legislature, adding that he wears his mask "faithfully." Wanzek said his wife is in Arizona, and he stayed alone in his Jamestown home after the Legislature let out on Friday, but he mentioned that he did stop by his farm and attend church over the weekend.
Now, Wanzek said he'll likely head home to quarantine for 10 days.
North Dakota lawmakers are required to wear face masks or plastic shields in most shared spaces, including the House and Senate chambers. However, some legislators regularly eat lunch together in the Capitol cafeteria without masks. Rapid tests are available to lawmakers, but leaders opted in December not to make testing mandatory.
Grand Forks Republican Sen. Ray Holmberg, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, tested positive for COVID-19 following the Legislature's three-day organizational session in December. Holmberg, who called the legislative assembly a "petri dish," has since made a full recovery.
Besides Wanzek, only one other person has tested positive at the Capitol during the first two weeks of the Legislative session, said the nurses who run the testing station. They estimated that 100 lawmakers, state employees, lobbyists and reporters seek testing each day it's offered.
David Andahl, a Republican legislative candidate, died from COVID-19 in October before winning his race in a district north of Bismarck. A lawsuit to decide who got to appoint Andahl's replacement frayed an already strained relationship between Gov. Doug Burgum and many members of the Legislature.