A member of the Georgia State House was removed from the Chamber Tuesday for refusing to take the state lawmakers’ mandated twice-weekly COVID-19 test.
“House Speaker David Ralston interrupted Tuesday morning’s session to call out an unnamed house member for refusing to get the required twice a week COVID-19 test,” according to WSBTV. “While he didn’t mention the Gwinnett County lawmaker by name, Ralston ordered Rep. David Clark (R-Buford) out of the chamber.”
Clark reportedly refused to leave the Chamber, and Ralston called State Troopers to have him forcibly removed.
Ralston defended his actions.
“Any public safety officer, member of the Georgia state patrol is authorized under Rule Four of the House to escort the member of the chamber,” he said.
But Clark disagreed, and slammed Ralston’s decisions.
“You can’t just pick the rules and decide who comes in and who doesn’t come in,” Clark reportedly said. “It’s called Speaker Ralston being a dictator again. I’ve read the rules. I’ve been over them.”
Clark, who reportedly has a long history of spats with Ralston, noted that he believes COVID-19 testing should be reserved ordinary Georgians.
“I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been to too many funerals and I’m getting tired of going to them,” Clark said.
According to WSBTV, COVID-19 tests are readily available to any Georgian who needs one.
In a joint statement, House Majority Leader Jon Burns (R-Newington) and House Minority Leader James Beverly (D-Macon) praised Ralston’s actions.
“We strongly support Speaker David Ralston in his efforts to preserve and protect the health and safety of the members and staff of the House of Representatives and all those who enter the doors of the Georgia State Capitol. We agree that all Members of the House of Representatives should comply with the testing procedures that have been implemented for their safety and the safety of their fellow Georgians.”
The battle over testing comes during a time when vaccines for the deadly pandemic are beginning to be administered.
For most of 2020, healthcare providers struggled to meet the demand for COVID-19 testing. Now, vaccine producers are trying to meet the demand for vaccinations.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), 746,000 vaccines have been administered in the state. Pfizer has shipped 541,125 of the state’s allocated 546,000 vaccines, while Moderna has 775,500 of the state’s allocated 776,000 vaccines.
DPH is currently in stage 1a+ of its vaccine distribution, which includes healthcare workers, residents and staff at longterm care facilities, law enforcement and first responders, and adults over the age of 65, along with their caretakers.
“Vaccine supply is very limited,” according to DPH. “Public health departments are scheduling vaccines by appointment only, as are most other providers. Depending on vaccine supply allocations from the federal government, it may be weeks before additional providers will have vaccine available for quicker and more widespread distribution.”
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