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Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, right, makes announcements after calling the joint session to order as House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, left, watches as the 85 day regular legislative session begins Monday March 9, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La.

Senate President Page Cortez said Thursday that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus last month, had a mild case and is healthy today.

Cortez, a Lafayette Republican, also said he was pronounced well several days before the Legislature met briefly on March 31.

"I was under no obligation to tell anyone," he said. "But today I concluded I had a moral obligation."

Cortez, 58, informed senators of his bout on Thursday morning.

"Most of them have texted me and said, 'I am so glad you came out of it and thank you for sharing, I know you are not under any obligation to share it,'" he said.

The Legislature began its 2020 regular session on March 9.

It adjourned temporarily about one week later because of the spread of the virus, and came back on March 31 for a session that lasted only a few hours, and included social distancing practices in both chambers.

When lawmakers will resume business is unclear but it may be early May.

Cortez said he began feeling bad around March 19, three days after lawmakers stopped business the first time, and tested positive for COVID-19 — the illness caused by the virus — on March 20 and self-quarantined then.

He said he had a fever and some body aches and felt uncomfortable for about 48 hours.

Cortez said he also notified his wife and two others he had been around when he started noticing symptoms, and that his wife self-quarantined for 14 days.

"I did have it and it wasn't a very harsh virus for me," Cortez said. "But it is not going to minimize how harsh it can be on other people, especially those with underlying health concerns."

He said he was not hospitalized and took vitamin C and Tylenol.

"It really was a little headache and a little fever," he said.

"By March 28, I was told I was good and you cannot transmit it."

Connie DeLeo, infection prevention specialist at Baton Rouge General, said Thursday that, based on the timeline provided by Cortez, he followed guidelines spelled out by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday he will announce Monday modifications to his stay-at-home order set to expire on April 30.

Exactly what that will mean is unclear.

Cortez said the governor on Wednesday was "very noncommittal" in his talk with the Senate leader and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales.

"I think his wish is to open up by May 1 but he wants to watch the numbers closely," Cortez said.

He said the governor noted that state lawmakers are essential workers, and that about 300 confirmations will die if the Senate fails to act on them by adjournment on June 1.

Crafting a new, $30 billion operating budget is another priority but the Senate leader noted the new spending document has to be in place by July 1.

One or more special sessions are expected because of the legislative shutdown sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.


Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.