House leaders

Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Bryan Cutler addresses the media during a news Conference in the capitol Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020.

Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler has tested positive for COVID-19.

Cutler is experiencing mild symptoms, he said in a statement released Thursday. He first began quarantining earlier this week, after having been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.

In his absence, Cutler appointed Rep. John Lawrence to act as the House's temporary speaker, according to a news release Friday. Lawrence, a Chester County Republican, also represents portions of Lancaster County, including Christiana Borough and Sadsbury Township.

Cutler, 46, was not exposed at the Capitol or at his district office in East Drumore Township, his spokesman said. Both offices will remain open, and Cutler will continue working remotely.

“I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me in recent days and appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers,” he said in a statement.

Cutler will be allowed to return to the Capitol after receiving a negative test result, per General Assembly policy. This is typically about 10 days after testing positive, spokesperson Mike Straub said, though the exact timeline will be determined by additional COVID-19 tests. 

Straub declined to comment on where Cutler was exposed and whether he has been vaccinated yet.

Cutler previously told LNP | LancasterOnline he would receive the vaccine when he became eligible. As of Tuesday, all Pennsylvanians ages 16 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Cutler worked as an x-ray technologist before obtaining a law degree. His wife worked as a nursing supervisor in PennMedicine Lancaster General Health.

Since taking the rostrum as speaker in June 2020, Cutler has consistently worn a mask during House proceedings and around the Capitol. At the time of his election as speaker, he told LNP | LancasterOnline that many of the health precautions were normal to him prior to the pandemic.

“Quarantine, social distancing, mask wearing and the vaccine are all important to reducing the spread of the virus, and I am following CDC guidelines and timelines before returning to in-person work,” Cutler said.

Cutler has encouraged his constituents to get vaccinated, though he believes health care decisions are “ultimately a personal choice,” Straub said.

“Everyone is encouraged to register today so you can get a vaccine when it is your turn,” Cutler wrote on Facebook last week.

The House is scheduled to return to session on Monday. House rules allow the speaker to appoint a substitute to fill his role for up to 10 legislative session days.

Approximately a dozen Pennsylvania legislators have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. This includes House leaders like Democratic Whip Jordan Harris (D., Philadelphia), as well as conservatives who flaunted virus precautions like Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Adams).

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