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State GOP leader Ed Randazzo tests positive for COVID-19
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State GOP leader Ed Randazzo tests positive for COVID-19

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Those who attended the Pennington County Republican Party Convention at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City on June 20 may have been exposed to COVID-19, a party official confirmed Friday.

Jeff Holbrook, chairman of the Pennington County GOP, said that one conference attendee tested positive for the coronavirus and an email was sent Wednesday to notify others in attendance.

Ed Randazzo, who chairs the Resolution Committee for the state GOP, confirmed to The Associated Press that he tested positive and is now at home recovering. He said that he did not have a fever or cough on Saturday, the day of the event, but his condition later worsened. The Pennington County GOP held an in-person event to participate in the statewide party convention, which was held electronically this year, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported.

Randazzo, the former director of Political Operations for the Family Heritage Alliance, said that people who attended the event adhered to social distancing guidelines.

The South Dakota State GOP Convention was planned to be held June 20 electronically to promote safe social distancing during the pandemic. However, Pennington County decided to hold an in-person gathering of several people instead of remotely joining the convention.

South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Dan Lederman said in a press release that state Republican party bylaws were recently changed and filed with the Secretary of State to allow for the convention to take place in this manner for 2020.

“With the unique situation this year with the coronavirus, we will be operating with a skeleton crew at our headquarters in Sioux Falls and at a satellite location in Rapid City for people to gather if they choose," Lederman said. "Otherwise, all voting will be electronic.”

Lederman did not immediately respond to phone calls by the Journal about the confirmed positive case of COVID-19 at the Rapid City location. Lederman told South Dakota Public Broadcasting that Pennington County Republicans took precautions needed to stay within CDC guidelines even though it was unknown that a person had the virus.

Holbrook declined to comment further on the exposure risk at the Pennington County convention.

Contact Assistant Managing Editor Nathan Thompson at nathan.thompson@rapidcityjournal.com.

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