Gov. Laura Kelly told COVID-19 test unnecessary after appearing at event with lawmaker who has the virus

Andrew Bahl
Topeka Capital-Journal
Gov. Laura Kelly will be tested for COVID-19 after she appeared Monday at a Topeka event with a Democratic lawmaker who later contracted the virus.

Gov. Laura Kelly will not be tested for COVID-19 after she appeared Monday at an event with a Democratic lawmaker who later contracted the virus, her office said Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesperson for Kelly initially said Wednesday morning the governor would be tested "out of an abundance of caution" after it was revealed Tuesday night that Rep. John Alcala, D-Topeka, had a mild, breakthrough case of COVID-19.

But they later said it was determined that because Kelly would not be tested, as she remained over six feet away from Alcala and both wore masks.

“Today, the governor received medical guidance that because she remains symptomless and was not in close contact with Rep. Alcala at Monday’s event, she will not be tested for COVID-19," Kelly's office said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

More:Another political leader has a mild case of COVID-19. Here's what to know about John Alcala's diagnosis.

Alcala, Kelly and a handful of other Democratic lawmakers and staff appeared Monday at a Topeka event championing the elimination of the state's food sales tax. 

Photos posted to social media show Alcala posing with other Democratic legislators but not Kelly. Most of the members in attendance appeared to be wearing masks and Kelly and Lt. Gov. David Toland, who also was in attendance, are vaccinated.

A spokesperson for House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita, said he was being tested as well out of caution.

Alcala's wife, Christina Valdivia-Alcala, a Topeka city council member, announced Alcala's diagnosis at a city council meeting Tuesday night. Alcala has been vaccinated and Valdivia-Alcala said the couple were "extremely taken off guard" by the news.

"We wear masks almost 100% every time we go out of the house, and yet here we are," she said.

Alcala said Wednesday that he was tested after a nagging cough cropped up again Monday. He said he has no other symptoms and has been resting in quarantine.

"I try to stay ahead of everything and I'm not an alarmist, so I went to go get checked out yesterday morning and it came back positive," he said.

A group of legislators, including Senate President Ty Masterson, House Speaker Ron Ryckman and others have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year.

Kelly had been tested at least once previously after being near a legislator who later disclosed a COVID-19 diagnosis.

The governor tested negative after being seated near Ryckman during a committee meeting. The Olathe Republican later said he had been hospitalized for COVID-19 earlier in July, though the governor still criticized his decision to attend the hearing in person.

Andrew Bahl is a senior statehouse reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at abahl@gannett.com or by phone at 443-979-6100.