State Rep. Ted James, a Baton Rouge Democrat and one of the most influential voices in the area legislative delegation, said he has tested positive for the coronavirus and is also hospitalized with pneumonia.

A second House member, state Rep. Rodney Lyons, D-Harvey, said he was hospitalized briefly with coronavirus-like symptoms but never tested positive for the virus.

No state senator has been reported as having tested positive, said Senate President President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette.

In a statement Monday night, James said he became symptomatic on Sunday, March 22 and began self-isolation.

"By Monday morning I began having shortness of breath with a high fever and cough," he wrote.

"I was tested and received my results back on Thursday, March 26 showing that I was positive for COVID-19," he said, a reference to the illness caused by the virus.

"By Saturday my fever broke but I still had such difficulty breathing I had to be admitted to the hospital Sunday, March 29," James said.

"I'm now battling pneumonia and COVID-19," he said.

"I hope my constituents  and the people of Louisiana look at my experience and understand that this virus does not know age, race, health or socioeconomic status," the Democrat wrote.

"Most people think there's nothing we can do to combat COVID but that's simply not true," he added.

"I implore everyone to stay home, stay safe and save lives," James said. "I know God is in control and I look forward to beating this and returning to work soon."

James, 38, is an attorney, chairman of the influential House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee and one of the most affable members of the Legislature.

He is also vice-chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus. 

Lyons said he became ill about 16 days ago and sought treatment. He then went into quarantine, from which he just emerged. Lyons is on the House Appropriations committee as well as the House Executive Committee. His District 87 includes parts of Woodmere, Harvey and Marrero.

"I'm fine," Lyons told The Advocate Tuesday.

The Legislature met on Tuesday after a temporary adjournment sparked by the coronavirus.

Lawmakers initially planned to extend the temporary break until April 13 but instead opted to leave open when it will resume business because of uncertainities surrounding the virus.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday he would extend his stay-at-home order that applies to most workers until April 30 to mirror the federal directive on social distancing, which President Donald Trump announced Sunday.

The Legislature adjourns on June 1.

A special session is possible later this year.

Mark Ballard of The Advocate contributed to this report.


Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.