New Hampshire House Speaker Sherm Packard on Friday called accusations made by State Rep Chuck Grassie that Republicans infected him with COVID "political rhetoric that does no good."
Grassie, D-Rochester, made the comments in a story published in Foster's Daily Democrat on Thursday, a day after White House Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that the Omicron variant will infect "just about everybody."
Health experts widely agree that Omicron is far more contagious but less dangerous than previous variants like Delta.
Grassie, who is fully vaxed and boosted, claimed in the article that unmasked Republicans infected him while attending a recent House session held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Manchester.
Packard said the 30,000 sqare-foot space in which they held the session allowed for social distancing of six feet as well as 12-15 feet of space between masked and unmasked attendees. He said there were also separate entrances and bathrooms for each group.
"No one caused a super spreader event," Packard told The Rochester Voice in an exclusive interview. "We brought in HEPA air purifying machines and did everything possible to make it safe. I wish the finger pointing and rhetoric would stop. Everyone knows the omicron variant is running rampant right now."
He cited the recent Georgia-Alabama championship game in which tens of thousands of fans stood shoulder to shoulder.
"No one's calling that a super spreader," he quipped.
In the Foster's article, Grassie noted he never took off his mask except when testifying or eating lunch with "people I knew and felt comfortable were being cautious themselves."
InDepthNH.org reported on Friday that six from the 400-member House have now tested positive for COVID.
The House is awaiting a ruling in a federal lawsuit filed by a number of medically at-risk Democrats, including Minority Leader Renny Cushing of Hampton, last year to allow remote participation citing the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The U.S. District Court judge sided with Packard, but that decision was overturned by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. A rehearing was requested by Packard, was granted and held, but a decision has yet to bet released.
Meanwhile, Packard is pleading for the finger pointing to stop.
"It's very said," he said. "I've even been called a murderer."
Grassie did not return phone calls from The Rochester Voice on Friday.
InDepthNH.org contributed to this report