OXFORD — Newly elected Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, has tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing him to miss the 130th Legislature’s swearing-in ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center Wednesday.

Bennett Courtesy / Rick Bennett

Bennett represents District 19, which includes Bridgton, Naples and Sebago.

Bennett told the Lakes Region Weekly that he started to feel as if he had a cold on Thanksgiving Day and soon developed a sore throat. He got tested for COVID-19 at Stevens Memorial Hospital in Norway on Saturday, Nov. 28.

“I was really quite surprised that it was positive,” Bennett said Tuesday evening. He has “absolutely no idea” how he caught the virus.

“It’s out there and very contagious,” Bennett said.

He said he has a bit of cough and heaviness in his chest but is otherwise feeling OK and has been monitoring his temperature and oxygen levels.

Bennett’s family also got tested but the results were negative and they remained asymptomatic midweek.

He will quarantine for the full 14 days following the positive result, until Dec. 12, meaning he also will miss out on the election of several constitutional officers including the secretary of state, attorney general and Senate president.

“I’m very disappointed about it,” Bennett said. “It’s very frustrating to not be there on day one representing my constituents.”

Bennett will be sworn in once he is done with his quarantine.

Newly elected Sen. President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, asked Bennett to give the opening prayer, but Sen. Mark Lawrence, D-York, was drafted to read the prayer Bennett wrote in his place.

Both Bennett and Lawrence are former state Senate presidents.

As of Wednesday morning, Bennett was the only legislator to test positive ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.

Gov. Janet Mills announced Tuesday that she would be quarantining at Blaine House until Dec. 12 after a member of her security detail tested positive.

Acting Chief Justice of Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court Andrew Mead was to conduct the ceremony in her place.

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