Virginia Delegate in Quarantine Wants to Be Example for Latino Community

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A Virginia lawmaker asked to quarantine after being exposed to first lady Pam Northam, who tested positive for the coronavirus, wants to set an example for others.

Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-31st District) spent time with Northam before the first lady tested positive and was asked to quarantine Friday.

“It was not a good weekend,” she said.

She said her youngest daughter was instantly fearful.

“My daughter, the youngest, she was crying,” Guzman said. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s going to happen with Mommy? Is she positive? Is she going to die?’”

She learned Monday she tested negative.

“I was extremely excited that I was negative,” she said. 

She is isolating in a room at her Woodbridge home until Oct. 6.

Guzman is one of the first Latinas elected to the Virginia General Assembly. She pointed out her Latino community has been especially hard hit by coronavirus, with essential workers who struggle with the thought of having to quarantine. 

“People who look like me are leading those numbers,” she said. “I wanted to set an example so they could know if they are exposed, that that’s the right thing to do and that’s how we protect each other.”

She’s also using the experience to keep a spotlight on the issue of paid sick leave. Guzman sponsored a bill in the special session to provide paid quarantine leave. The House approved it, but the Senate killed it.

She said she made one last appeal when the governor’s office called to notify her she’d been exposed. 

“Please, in these difficult times, to remember about those people — 1.2 million Virginians out there do not have access to paid time off,” Guzman said. 

Guzman has also sponsored paid sick leave bills in the last three regular sessions and plans to do it again in 2021.

Guzman has been weighing a possible bid for lieutenant governor next year. 

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