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Kansas House Speaker reveals COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalization

(WIBW)
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 7:21 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives recently was hospitalized with COVID-19.

Rep. Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, revealed the news in a letter sent to House Republicans. In the letter, Ryckman says he tested positive and spent time in the hospital. Ryckman says he self-isolated, followed doctor’s orders, and is past the contagious stage.

“I know that I’ve been fortunate, and I am thankful that my family tested negative,” Ryckman wrote. “While my experience slowed life down in our house for several weeks, it has not slowed my determination to help move our state forward with you.”

Ryckman’s letter started with an appeal to unify behind winners of Tuesday’s Republican primary elections. He later asked everyone to look out for each other during the pandemic, which he says, to him, means “protecting individual freedoms, re-opening our economy and protecting the health of our communities.”

House Democrats took to social media, lashing out at Ryckman for not sharing his diagnosis with Democratic members of the legislature.

“Knowingly putting lives at risk, Speaker Ryckman displayed behavior unfit for his title, let alone any elected official or person. Not alerting every member of the House and Senate is indefensible. He must be held accountable for his negligence,” their post read. A follow-up post questioned his attendance at a State Finance Council meeting in light of his revelation, stating, “This is disturbing and GROSSLY irresponsible.”

The information is not included in Ryckman’s letter, but Ryckman confirmed he was diagnosed July 13, and the State Finance Council meeting was July 29. He said he spend 16 days in isolation, leaving his home only after a second negative test, and he was cleared by a doctor.

“I opted to share my story more broadly in an effort to help reduce the stigma for the many Kansans who have tested positive,” Ryckman told 13 NEWS in an email. “It’s unfortunate that some are choosing to use my personal health information as a way to fear monger and publicly shame those who have been diagnosed.”

Colleagues,

With the primaries behind us, I wanted to touch base with you as we unify behind the winners, move toward the General Election, and prepare to continue serving our fellow Kansans in the coming year.

There can be no question that our collective experience with coronavirus impacted elections. The electorate has become more informed and engaged with their state and local leaders about issues affecting our everyday lives. Though perspectives vary on public health, education and the economy – all of us have been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another and our response is largely based on that personal experience.

I wanted to share with you about my personal experience. Some of us have friends and family who have tested positive over the course of this pandemic, while others have yet to personally know someone affected by the infection. I want you to hear from me that I was among those to test positive for COVID. I was hospitalized, have followed doctor’s orders, and self-isolated during that time. I am now past what doctors consider the contagious stage and am on the road to recovery.

I know that I’ve been fortunate, and I am thankful that my family tested negative. While my experience slowed life down in our house for several weeks, it has not slowed my determination to help move our state forward with you. Until there is a better way to fight this infection, we must continue to look out for each other and all of the ways our state and our families are affected by this pandemic. This means protecting individual freedoms, re-opening our economy and protecting the health of our communities. I look forward to working with you on those priorities - and the many other priorities you are hearing about from your constituents.

Please don’t hesitate to call me if you would like to discuss your elections, your experiences or mine, or policies we can pursue together on behalf of those we serve. I am humbled to work alongside you during these remarkable times – the opportunity is truly a privilege.

In your service,

Ron

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