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Fourth Lawmaker Contracts COVID As Contact Numbers Grow

Rep. Becky Beard (R) - HD80
Rep. Becky Beard (R) - HD80

A fourth Montana state lawmaker has tested positive for COVID-19 after working in-person at the Capitol in Helena. Nearly two dozen close contacts have been identified in connection with positive cases tied to the Capitol.

Republican party leadership announced Wednesday that Rep. Becky Beard, a Republican from Elliston, tested positive for the coronavirus. She is asymptomatic according to the release, and last worked at the Capitol on Friday.

Like many Republican lawmakers, Beard does not wear a mask in the building.

The Legislature has hired a Lewis and Clark County public health nurse to conduct contact tracing at the Capitol. That contact tracer has identified 23 people as close contacts to confirmed cases since February 3, according Legislative Services Division Director Susan Fox. Close contacts include other legislators, staff, lobbyists and relatives.

Two legislative staffers have tested positive since Feb. 3. This data only captures legislators who get tested through the state employee clinic.

The news release also said Beard was not a close contact of Rep. Brian Putnam, who tested positive for COVID-19 last Sunday. Two other lawmakers contracted the virus earlier in the session, but not from working in the Capitol.

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.