Sen. Dan McCay tests positive for coronavirus; at least one other Utah senator in self-isolation with symptoms

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, in 2017.

At least one other Utah senator is quarantining at home after Sen. Daniel McCay announced Saturday that he’d tested positive for the coronavirus.

McCay, R-Riverton, said he was diagnosed Friday morning but began to feel ill after leaving the Capitol on Wednesday. He said he’s isolating at home and noted Saturday that the illness has fatigued him.

Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, has been quarantining at home since McCay called her about his diagnosis.

Riebe sits near McCay and had a conversation with him on the Senate floor on Wednesday, when he walked in with a drink and with his N95 mask on his wrist. She reminded him to put on the mask and offered him one.

When McCay put on his own mask, after setting down the drink, he spilled it. He told The Salt Lake Tribune that he was maskless for less than two minutes during the cleanup and had no extended conversations with anyone else at the Capitol without wearing his mask.

Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, witnessed the drink spill and went with Riebe to retrieve paper towels for the cleanup but wasn’t close to McCay long enough to warrant self-isolation.

McCay also attended an interim committee meeting Tuesday morning, but he said in a tweet that attendees were socially distanced and wore masks.

“I’ve consulted and worked with Senate staff and the Utah Department of Health to notify those I may have been in close contact with,” McCay tweeted, “and we are following recommendations from the Utah Department of Health.”

Riebe said she is not upset with McCay, who doesn’t know how he got the virus, and told him, “I don’t fault you at all for being sick.”

COVID-19 cases in Utah have been increasing rapidly. After back-to-back record days, the Utah Department of Health reported 1,608 new infections Saturday as critical-care beds continued to fill with people falling ill and struggling to breathe.

Riebe plans to be tested Sunday morning and said she has a sore throat and a headache.

Health Department spokesman Tom Hudachko said health officials advised anyone who’d been in close contact with McCay for more than 15 minutes between Monday and Wednesday, before McCay began isolating, to quarantine.

Hudachko said that since much of the Capitol operations have moved online, it appears there were only a limited number of people in close contact with McCay during that time period.

Vickers said Saturday that Senate leaders had talked about how to ensure the Capitol is safe as cases in Utah continue to rise. He said some have discussed installing plexiglass barriers and trying to remodel some areas to have the appropriate space to socially distance for meetings.

McCay encouraged Utahns to wear a mask, maintain 6 feet of distance, and wash their hands regularly, “especially because carriers may be asymptomatic.”