Colorado State Lawmaker Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet listens during Gov. Jared Polis’ State of the State address, Jan. 9, 2020.

Democratic state Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet of Commerce City has tested positive for COVID-19. She told CPR she received the results Thursday morning. She got tested after feeling feverish on Sunday. 

The day before she had been at the state capitol when lawmakers voted to temporarily stop the session to try and prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

“I was just getting over the bronchitis, like the symptoms were going down. I had just sent my doctor an email that things were getting better. And then, a day and a half later, I spiked a fever around 102,” said Michaelson Jenet. 

 She said she has no idea how she may have contracted COVID-19 and had already been in daily contact with her doctor about the bronchitis and had been careful with her behavior because of that condition.

“The community matters so much to me and I certainly would not have done anything to expose them,” Michaelson Jenet said tearfully. “I’m really grateful to my leadership for making the vote to adjourn. And I just hope it does not spread.”

Michaelson Jenet will be in quarantine for two weeks. It’s not immediately clear what this means for her role at the state legislature. Lawmakers had adjourned until March 30, and possibly longer. But they were scheduled to return to the capitol and take another vote on a potentially extended absence. 

In response to news of the diagnosis, House Speaker KC Becker said, “We are all wishing Dafna the best and pulling for her as she fights off this virus. While I cannot speak for every lawmaker, I know that most are doing their best to follow the advice of public health officials and are staying at home.”

Becker said knowing that a member has the virus will factor into conversations about how long the legislature should stay on recess.

“My biggest hope or concern or desire is that everybody start taking this seriously. It’s not a hoax. Please take care of yourself,” Michaelson Jenet said. “Stay inside, be healthy."

This is just the latest instance of COVID-19 touching Colorado politics. Two of the state’s Congressional delegation, Senator Cory Gardner and Congressman Jason Crow, are isolating themselves after meeting with a member of a Colorado Municipal League delegation who later tested positive. Senator Michael Bennet also met with the delegation, but has said the Senate doctor did not recommend self quarantine.