A defiant Georgia lawmaker was escorted by police from the state’s House chamber after refusing to be tested for COVID-19 — and is reportedly planning to return without getting screened.
State Rep. David Clark, a Republican from Buford, was removed from the House chamber in Atlanta on Tuesday for refusing to comply with protocols for legislators to be tested twice per week.
Clark — who is accused of missing three weeks of screenings — was removed by a state trooper at the request of a fellow Republican, House Speaker David Ralston, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“I’m not falling in line,” Clark told the newspaper later Tuesday while vowing to return to the Capitol Wednesday without being tested.
“They have no right to do this. I’m going to show back up tomorrow and try to get in. I’m going to show up every day and work for my constituents.”
Ralston had previously chastised Georgia House lawmakers upon learning that 74 of its 180 members didn’t get screened as required when the current session started about three weeks ago, the newspaper reported.
“We have a member of this body who has deliberately failed at all to get tested as we begin session, clearly in violation of our testing policy,” Ralston told his colleagues Tuesday, adding that the unnamed rep was “jeopardizing” the health of others, according to the outlet.
“I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been to too many funerals, and I’m getting tired of going to them,” Ralston continued after Clark was shown the door.
Ralston’s office later notified Clark that he would lose his legislative office space until he complies with the testing protocols.
A message seeking comment from Clark Wednesday was not returned, but he promised not to go away quietly and told the Journal-Constitution he was considering legal action.
Clark said he arrived Tuesday “prepared to follow the required protocols” by wearing a mask inside the chamber, having his temperature checked and maintaining distance from his colleagues.
“What I will not do is be forced to have a Covid test, or any unnecessary medical test, done without a basis for doing so,” Clark tweeted Tuesday. “The seat that I hold for District 98 is not my seat, but the people’s seat.”
Clark said he “cannot in good conscience” watch tests that should be doled out to state citizens in desperate need be “wasted for nothing more than political optics” at the state Capitol.
“The CDC has been clear; a symptom-based strategy is more effective than a test-based strategy,” Clark tweeted. “With that said, if I had symptoms, I would not hesitate to be tested to protect others.”
Nearly 12,000 Georgians have died from COVID-19, state data shows.
Several members of the state Senate reportedly contracted the virus last spring. Clark’s father-in-law, state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, attended while sick in March and later tested positive, according to the Journal-Constitution.