State Rep. Amy Nielsen is the first Iowa legislator to report a positive COVID-19 case

State Rep. Amy Nielsen, D-North Liberty, tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday — the first lawmaker to report a positive case.


Jenna Galligan

Rep. Amy Nielsen, D-North Liberty speaks during the Eastern Iowa Legislative Forum hosted by The Daily Iowan at the Iowa City Public Library on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. The forum surrounded topics including education, state budget, medicare, and environmental issues. (Jenna Galligan/The Daily Iowan)

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

Iowa state Rep. Amy Nielsen, D-North Liberty, tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, as the state Legislature continues to operate with little virus mitigation efforts. 

Nielsen is the fourth reported case out of the Iowa House since the session began three weeks ago but marks the first legislator to report testing positive.

The Legislature does not require the use of masks or that lawmakers or staff report positive COVID-19 cases. 

Before the session began, Republican leadership told reporters in a virtual press conference that they have no way to enforce a mask mandate inside the Capitol. The Gazette fact checked this claim and found it false, because the Legislature does enforce things like dress code policy.

Nielsen wrote in a statement to The Daily Iowan that she got a COVID-19 test after she started to feel like she had a bad cold and heavy congestion. Her test came back positive on Saturday, which she said came as a surprise.

Nielsen sent out an email to House legislators and staff on Saturday after receiving her positive test.

“I decided to disclose my diagnosis because I was around a lot of people last week, and I felt that they all deserved to know,” Nielsen wrote. “I can not 100% say where I got it, but I have only been in the Capitol and the grocery store in the last three weeks.”

Nielsen said members of the Democratic caucus in the House are required to wear masks, and that she’s been in touch with House Minority Leader Todd Prichard since testing positive. She said she has yet to hear from Republican House Speaker Pat Grassley’s office.

Labor groups filed a complaint on Jan. 21 with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, saying Iowa House and Senate leaders are creating an unsafe work environment by not adopting safety precautions.


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