Asymptomatic Montco commissioner surprised by positive COVID-19 result

By KYW Newsradio 1060
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend and is isolating at home.

The commissioner said he was tested at the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium site in Pottstown, which he helped bring together. 

“I did not want to take the test, because I had not displayed symptoms,” he said. But the doctors consortium encouraged him to get tested, so he did.

Lawrence said he got the results just as he was about to start grilling Mother’s Day dinner for his family. He was shocked. He had no symptoms, and through all of his frequent temperature checks, he’d never shown a fever.

“And that’s why we’ve been saying you should assume that everyone is positive,” he said. 

To anyone who thinks he is making a political stunt, he says, he had to cancel Mother’s Day dinner with his wife and kids. He said it’s a horrible feeling now, wondering if he infected friends or family, and he’s not looking forward to locking himself away for the next two weeks.

“Of course, I’m concerned for my family. I’m concerned with the people that I’ve worked with,” he said.

Lawrence said he did see his mother last weekend before he got the positive test result. He said he kept his distance and, while he wanted to, he didn’t hug her — which he's grateful for now.

He said he’s been going out of his home as part of his job, but he’s been as careful as possible, washing his hands and following health officials’ guidelines.

“I think it demonstrates the importance of testing,” he said. “But I think it demonstrates the importance of … you just don’t know.”

He can’t imagine where he picked up the infection — “but that’s why they call it community spread, because it could be anywhere in the community.”

Commissioner Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, said she and other commissioners have been tested and will be working remotely until they receive their results.

As for the rest of the county, Arkoosh hopes restrictions can be rolled back starting in early June. 

“Maybe a little sooner, maybe a little later. We are really at that point where this is in the public’s hands,” she said.

Aside from daily averages of new cases, she said an important metric to watch is the stress on area hospitals. Still, the number of COVID-19 patients continues to fall — now just above 300 — and about quarter of those patients are requiring ventilators.

The county continues to talk with the Pennsylvania Department of Health about next steps.

“We have presented some ideas to them. We’re waiting for feedback on that, on ways of looking at our numbers in total,” Arkoosh added.