Tennessee lawmaker hospitalized with COVID-19

Friday, December 4, 2020, Vol. 44, No. 49

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Tennessee lawmaker has been hospitalized with COVID-19 after attending a House Republican caucus meeting nearly two weeks ago.

"Please pray for God's healing for my lungs, and that he will give me strength and endurance as I battle this virus," Rep. David Byrd of Waynesboro said in a Facebook post on Monday.

Byrd, 63, was flown by helicopter over the weekend from Wayne County Hospital to Saint Thomas in Nashville, local media reported.

Byrd attended the House GOP caucus meeting on Nov. 24 where the nearly 70-member group reelected legislative leaders. He also participated in a House GOP overnight retreat the weekend prior.

He is at least the second lawmaker to be hospitalized after contracting the virus. Earlier this year, Republican Rep. Mike Carter of Ooltewah also was hospitalized for COVID-19.

Byrd has attracted scrutiny for more than a year over allegations by three women of sexual misconduct three decades ago when he was a high school teacher and their basketball coach. He was never charged. Two alleged Byrd inappropriately touched them; the third said Byrd tried to.

Byrd apologized to one of the women in a phone call she recorded in early 2018, but he didn't detail his action and denied anything happened with other students.

The Republican then successfully ran for reelection this year after initially announcing he would retire.