Rep. Reginald Murdock, D-Marianna, has become the first Arkansas legislator to discover he has tested positive for the coronavirus. Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, disclosed the news in a memo on Wednesday (April 1).
“Representative Reginald Murdock has informed me that he found out today that he has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, but is currently feeling fine. Given the fact that Rep. Murdock attended two of the House sessions last week, he and I wanted to make you aware of this fact,” Shepherd wrote in reference to last week’s three-day special session.
During the session, House members met at UA Little Rock’s Jack Stephens Center and used Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for safe distancing.
“After conferring with the Arkansas Department of Health, it is our understanding that since we followed all precautions and met in a large venue that merely attending the same session would present a negligible risk to the members, staff and other attendees. Our understanding from ADH at this time is that there is no reason for any asymptomatic member or staff to quarantine; however, ADH will be following up with Rep. Murdock and will advise of any changes to those recommendations,” Shepherd said.
Lawmakers are scheduled to meet April 8 for the start of the fiscal session, which occurs in even-numbered years. State Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, the Senate President, told Talk Business & Politics last week the fiscal session was still on schedule to take place.
Murdock tells Talk Business & Politics he feels fine right now.
“I’m symptom-free right now. I think three weeks ago when I thought I had a sinus infection, it was actually my experience with the virus,” he said. “My doctor thinks I’m on the back end.”
Shepherd said caution needs to be observed.
“If you had close contact or there is any reason you believe you may be suffering from symptoms of the virus, please contact your medical provider or the Arkansas Department of Health,” he said.