State Sen. Tina Maharath (D-Canal Winchester) says she and her family have tested positive for COVID-19.
“It’s been a rough couple of days," Maharath told WOSU. "These symptoms feel unbearable at times. But at the end of the day my vitals are pretty consistent enough that I don’t need a hospital stay, so I’m very grateful and very blessed.”
Maharath said she caught COVID-19 at a family funeral, and her sister-in-law has since died from the disease. Two other family members remain hospitalized.
"We DESPERATELY need you to wear your masks and stay at home if you're sick," Maharath tweeted on Monday.
The Whitehall native represents the 3rd district, covering much of Central Ohio, in the state Senate. In 2018, she became the first Asian American woman elected to the chamber.
Maharath is the second state lawmaker to test positive for the coronavirus, after state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) announced her own diagnosis in July.
While Ohio requires face masks in public and at workplaces, those mandates do not extend to the Ohio Statehouse, where Republican leaders have so far declined to enforce most health guidelines. Maharath says she wants to see a mask mandate extended to lawmakers.
"I’ve spoken not only to my leadership, but also the Republican leadership about my diagnosis and my symptoms," Maharath says. "I hope to see them take this seriously because, as you can see, I’m the youngest one in the Senate chambers. Most of my colleagues have underlying health conditions or they’re also at risk because of their age.”
My family and I have tested positive for #COVID19
Sharing this info now because 2 of them have been hospitalized and by the grace of god, a Caucasian man can interpret for us
We DESPERATELY need you to wear your masks and stay at home if you’re sick. Our SIL is gone
— Tina Maharath (@TinaMaharath) August 17, 2020
Maharath says she thinks the state is doing the best it can to combat the pandemic, but she expressed disappointment that some of Gov. Mike DeWine's more aggressive actions "got set back" because of political pressure from fellow Republicans.
“I think saving a life is more important that any rights right now," Maharath says. "It’s our human right to be alive and to have this health care standard, so I hope to see that Gov. DeWine will take a look at possibly amping up some more enforcement.”
Maharath says she expects to return to work "in a couple of weeks."