NASHVILLE — Tennessee state Rep. Mike Carter, an Ooltewah Republican, was hospitalized Sunday in the intensive care unit of Erlanger hospital, where the former Hamilton County judge is fighting a coronavirus infection, colleagues confirmed Sunday night.
"Our friend and colleague is battling COVID, and he is in ICU in Erlanger and we covet your prayers and so does he," House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison of Cosby confirmed to the Times Free Press.
Faison said he and Carter "texted together today, and he asked me to make sure people are praying for him."
Another legislator confirmed the account as well.
Carter is chairman of the House Civil Justice Committee and a widely regarded figure on Capitol Hill. He was absent last week during the General Assembly's special legislative session. Gov. Bill Lee called the session for lawmakers to address legislation protecting businesses, schools and other entities from coronavirus-related litigation, as well as legislation addressing telemedicine and cracking down on protesters at the Capitol.
An earlier effort to pass a similar liability bill collapsed on the House floor in June when Carter and a group of other GOP leaders raised concerns about it and voted no.
He is the second known Tennessee lawmaker to have tested for COVID-19. Over the weekend, House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, who also was absent from the special session, confirmed to The Tennessean that he was in quarantine after having been exposed to someone who had the coronavirus, but Casada didn't say whether he had tested positive for the infection.
Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, announced last month that he had tested positive for COVID-19 but was asymptomatic. That was following his attendance at earlier legislative meetings.
Many Republican lawmakers have refused to wear masks consistently while in legislative buildings.
Carter, meanwhile, attended a July 31 Hamilton County Lincoln Day dinner where a number of prominent Republicans, including Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond and now-U.S. Senate Republican nominee Bill Hagerty, were criticized for not wearing masks. Carter posted a photo of himself smiling and maskless, shoulder-to-shoulder with Hagerty, with the text, "Had a great time tonight at the best Lincoln Day Dinner in Tennessee, Hamilton County, with our next Senator."
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