A volunteer for Amanda Chase’s Republican gubernatorial campaign says that they were not notified of possible exposure to COVID-19 at an event with the senator last weekend.
One of the volunteers who attended a campaign event on Saturday at a gun show in Fisherville with Chase said she received a positive COVID-19 test on Wednesday. She then texted Chase’s executive assistant, Debbie Gwynn, notifying her of the result at 3:08 p.m., Wednesday afternoon.
Other volunteers and staff at the same event said that they were never notified of their possible exposure.
Gwynn told Virginia Scope on Thursday afternoon that she did not receive a text message informing her of a volunteer’s positive COVID-19 test on Wednesday, calling it “fake news.” Gwynn reiterated that in a second phone call, saying she “100%” did not receive the text.
Chase, who was among the crowd of volunteers that were exposed, initially denied having any knowledge of the text.
She told Virginia Scope that she asked Gwynn after our inquiry and her assistant responded with, “NO I HAVE NOT. Brandon Jarvis has contacted me twice and I have unequivocally told him, NO THEY DID NOT [send a text].”
Chase said that a few minutes before Virginia Scope reached out to her, a member of the Senate clerk’s office informed her on the Senate floor that someone called to let the clerk know that they were at a gun show with Chase and had tested positive for COVID-19. Chase said she responded with, “That’s news to me.”
Chase said she then texted Gwynn again, asking if she was sure she did not receive a text from a volunteer informing her of a positive COVID test.
Chase said Thursday night that Gwynn eventually told her she had completely forgotten about receiving the text at 3:08 p.m. on Wednesday. According to Chase, Gwynn responded to her text with “Oh my gosh, I got a text from Michelle yesterday. I totally forgot to tell you.” Chase said she responded with, “Are you kidding me?”
“I got a text from Michelle telling me that she had pneumonia and she had COVID,” Gwynn wrote, according to Chase.
“Debbie was just so busy,” Chase said, noting that she apologized for letting it slip her mind.
Chase said she then followed up with Michelle, the volunteer.
“I wasn’t believing it,” Chase told Virginia Scope. “I point-blank asked Michelle, ‘do you have COVID,’ and she said ‘yes.’”
Chase said she then asked Michelle to send proof of the positive test. “This is not a joking matter, this is very serious. I have family members who have just had cancer and triple bypass surgery. I have lost a friend a week to COVID and I need some answers.”
Chase said that Michelle responded by saying she will have to get back to her with that. “Which tells me that she is full of it,” Chase added.
Chase said she believes that a recent employee who resigned suddenly this week is behind this push to make her campaign look bad. The employee left abruptly after she informed him that she would no longer be using his security company – this employee was also her legislative aide.
The employee declined to have any involvement in a scheme to tarnish the senator’s campaign. They also provided no comment other than to say they were hurt that the campaign did not inform them of their exposure, as they were also at the gun show on Saturday.
Since Chase does not wear a mask, she sat all week in a plexiglass box on the Senate floor among her colleagues.
Out of caution, Chase said that she plans to get a COVID-19 test Thursday night. She also said that she will virtually participate in the Senate session on Friday. “I don’t know if what Michelle is saying is true or not, so I am going to get tested right now in Chesterfield.”
Chase said she had no fever or COVID-19 symptoms when she checked into the Senate on Thursday morning. She said she also had limited exposure to Michelle on Saturday.
Gwynn reached out to each affected volunteer on Thursday evening to inform them of possible exposure. But, Chase noted that Michelle had already contacted them earlier in the day. “Michelle said that she has already reached out to the volunteers to let them know that they may have been exposed,” she said.
When asked about her volunteers expressing their frustrations with not being notified by the campaign earlier, Chase said, “I didn’t know about it. I’m pissed off because I didn’t find out about it yesterday. My aide feels terrible about it.”
Chase continued; “All I know is that now that I know, I don’t know whether Michelle’s claim is true or not, I don’t know if this is a hit job on my campaign, I really do not believe anybody at this moment,” she said. “But what I do know is that to take an abundance of caution, that way I know that I do the right thing.”
Michelle returned calls for an interview on Thursday night. While coughing, and struggling to talk at times, she said that none of this is Senator Chase’s fault, noting that she believes she told Gwynn that she would notify all of the other people involved when she first contacted her.
Michelle said on Thursday night that she did not want to reach out to the senator directly because she was so busy with the current legislative session.
“I still support her,” Michelle said in a phone interview while Senator Chase was also on the line. “There is no one better for the job.”
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