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Gazelka admits Senate GOP could've handled COVID-19 situation differently

The senate majority leader was criticized for not sharing news of those positive tests and possible exposures with Democratic colleagues before a special session.
Credit: KARE

ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota's Senate majority leader says his caucus could've handled positive COVID-19 cases among Republican senators differently. 

Sen. Paul Gazelka is among Republican senators who have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days. Gazelka was criticized for not sharing news of those positive tests and possible exposures with Democratic colleagues before a special session last week. He was also blasted for holding a post-election event that dozens of fellow Republicans attended. Some Democrats called for Gazelka to resign his leadership position. 

RELATED: Senate DFL leader calls for majority leader's resignation after COVID outbreak

Gazelka said in a statement released Tuesday that he is committed to protecting senators, staff and others, and he'll apply lessons learned to the 2021 legislative session. 

“In recent days, there has been media and political criticism of the Senate majority caucus holding its traditional post-election caucus gathering and how we handled subsequent news that some of us at that event later tested positive for COVID-19," Gazelka said in the released statement. "In hindsight, we could have handled the event and our information sharing differently. I personally will apply lessons from this episode to inform future decisions as we prepare for the 2021 legislative session. I am committed to protecting senators, staff and the people with whom we come in contact."

The senate majority leader went out of his way to emphasize that the establishment that hosted the GOP election night gathering followed state-issued COVID protocols, and should not be punished for the positive cases. 

Minnesota reported nearly 6,000 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, and an additional 26 deaths.