Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has said his mother-in-law died after contracting COVID-19, while his father-in-law is currently infected with the virus.
The Republican made the announcement as state lawmakers reconvened for a special session of the Legislature to pass a financial relief bill for businesses and workers.
Gazelka was in the headlines in November when he himself contracted COVID-19 in the days following an in-person meeting and post-election celebratory party held by the Senate GOP on Nov. 5.
He started experiencing symptoms shortly after arriving in Florida for a pre-planned trip on Nov. 9, and it was in Florida that he recuperated from the virus.
At the time he announced his diagnosis, he said his wife, Maralee, had tested negative for the virus.
An obituary for Maralee Gazelka's mother, Lillian Ahlstrand, states she died on Sunday, Nov. 29 at Edgewood Brainerd, with funeral services held on Saturday, Dec. 5.
She was 85 years old, a former registered nurse, and was married to her husband Bill – who Gazelka says has the virus – for 69 years.
Both Gazelka and the Senate GOP was heavily criticized by the DFL for failing to disclose its outbreak prior to a Special Session on Thursday, Nov. 12.
At least four Senate GOPers were known to have contracted the virus in the outbreak, and there remains concerns about the health of one of those diagnosed, St. Cloud Sen. Jerry Relph.
Relph was excused from Monday's special session, per MPR's Brian Bakst, who reported that Relph had sought hospital care for the virus last month.
Shortly after revealing his mother-in-law's death, Gazelka led the Senate in a successful vote to repeal Gov. Tim Walz's peacetime emergency for COVID-19, though this is unlikely to pass the House.