DFL Senate leader calls for Gazelka to step down from leadership role amid virus controversy

Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka released a statement on Sunday confirming that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the statement, Gazelka was experiencing symptoms since Monday and has been in quarantine; he said he will remain in quarantine for as long as his doctor advises him.

Gazelka also mentioned that he did not attend the special session on Thursday due to a scheduled trip that will be extended to avoid breaking quarantine. Within the past two days, Senate DFLers have blamed Republicans for not sharing publicly about positive COVID-19 cases within their caucus.

On Sunday, DFL Senate Leader Susan Kent released a statement calling for Gazelka’s resignation as majority leader, saying that he allowed "multiple, large, in-person Senate Republican gatherings that led to a COVID-19 outbreak."

"As state leaders it is our responsibility to lead by example," Kent stated. "The Senate Majority Leader is entrusted with the responsibility of keeping all members and staff in the Senate safe. Senator Gazelka has failed to do both. Under his leadership, Republican caucus members have engaged in high-risk behaviors, he has misled Minnesotans about their actions, and they have made excuses instead of being accountable."

Minnesota DFL: GOP only notified own caucus of positive COVID-19 test within its ranks

Gazelka told KSTP’s Tom Hauser that he had communicated with Kent directly and that he had no plans of resigning from his position as majority leader.

While traveling, Gazelka said he followed the CDC and airline requirements during his travel and that his wife has tested negative for COVID-19.

“I am not experiencing major issues or symptoms and I expect like 99% of people, I will make a full recovery," Gazelka said in a statement.

Gazelka also mentioned how there needs to be a stop in "blaming and shaming" of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and said because precautions were taken in the Senate chambers to prevent the spread of the virus, "no one was put at any more risk than any other special session."