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Senate President John A. Alario, Jr., photographed Friday, June 28, 2019 in the State Capitol's Memorial Hall, which lies in between the House and Senate chambers. He has served in the Louisiana State Legislature since 1972. He was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1972 to 2008 and was Speaker of the House twice. In 2007, he was elected to the Louisiana State Senate, and just finished serving his third term as a senator and his second term as the President of the State Senate. He is the second person in Louisiana and fourth in U.S. history to have been elected as both Speaker of his state House of Representatives and President of his state Senate. ORG XMIT: BAT1906281820020766

Former Senate President John Alario, the most powerful state legislator in recent years, disclosed Saturday that he has been hospitalized with the coronavirus.

“Getting great treatment” at Ochsner Hospital, Alario said in a text.

In a phone call, he said he was feeling better after being hospitalized Thursday and is hopeful of being released in a couple of days.

“I’m grateful for the medical personnel on the front lines,” Alario said, noting that he has received care from nurses who have come to Louisiana from Kentucky and New York state. “I encourage everyone to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” he said.

Alario, 76, represented Westwego in the state House and Senate for 48 years before term limits sidelined him at the end of last year. No one has served longer in the Legislature’s history.

Alario served two terms as speaker of the House under then-Gov. Edwin Edwards as a Democrat and two terms as Senate president as a Republican, once under then-Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, and the other under Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat. No one else has served as speaker and president twice each in the state’s history.

Alario is only the latest current or former legislator to be infected.

Among current legislators: Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette; state Rep. Tony Bacala, R-Prairieville; and state Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge.

Then-state Rep. Reggie Bagala, R-Cut Off, and former state Rep. Frankie Howard, R-Many, have died from the virus.

As of Friday, the number of people who have tested positive in Louisiana is 116,280. The number of deaths: 3,835.

Louisiana is number one in cases on a per capita basis. Louisiana is in a modified version of Phase 2 of reopening in which masks are mandatory in public statewide, bars are closed to in-person consumption and restaurants are open at 50% of capacity.

Capital news bureau writer Sam Karlin contributed to this report.


Email Tyler Bridges at tbridges@theadvocate.com.