Updated: January 29, 2021 01:15 PM
Created: January 28, 2021 08:19 PM
SANTA FE, N.M.- A small COVID-19 outbreak has been reported at the Roundhouse.
According to a spokesperson for the House Republicans, one of their members tested positive for the virus. As of Friday morning, House Minority Leader Jim Townsend said he's also aware of five other positive cases.
House Republicans released the following statement:
As we had predicted, requiring staff and legislators to convene, before the vaccine had a chance to be properly distributed, was a poor choice. The risks of COVID spread have clearly been present, now and when we discussed the format of the legislative session. House Republicans vehemently supported a delayed session to ensure safety and transparency. Our concern as we move forward is ensuring that, anyone who tests positive or has been exposed, returns to being healthy and safe. Our staff have chosen to stay home tomorrow, while Leadership discusses with the Department of Health on how to proceed moving forward to stop the exposure.
Speaker of the House Brian Egolf wished those with the virus a speedy recovery.
He also said the Department of Health is conducting contract tracing, in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.
In a statement, Egolf also defended the safety precautions taken at the Roundhouse, and criticized the actions of some Republicans:
"The Democratic leadership and members of the House have taken every measure to protect the safety and health of all members and staff, even while we have struggled to have certain minority members comply with mask-wearing and other simple health and safety directives.
I was dismayed to learn today that the Republican caucus had a catered luncheon within the capitol on Monday, at which members did not wear masks, and gathered in a small space.
In light of this and other refusals by House members to follow COVID-safe protocols and rules designed to protect members and staff, I am taking immediate steps within the House to protect the safety and health of staff and members. From this day forward, all committee rooms in the Capitol will be closed; all committee participation will be exclusively by Zoom, and members may not congregate in rooms to participate in committee meetings. Additionally, until further notice, the Floor of the House will be closed to all House members except the Majority Leader (or her designee), the Minority Leader (or his designee), and myself (or my designee as Speaker Pro Tempore).
I strongly encourage all members to participate remotely, even if that means participation from their offices in the Capitol.
I want to be clear, any individuals who contract the virus should not feel personally responsible. We need all members and staff to take these precautions seriously and to comply with existing and new health directives to keep everyone safe as we continue the people’s business."
Numerous staffers and other elected officials have been told to quarantine for two weeks and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.
According to information provided by Speaker Egolf on Friday, three cases have been confirmed since the start of the session. The additional three cases were identified before the session and those individuals did not come to the Capitol. Two of the COVID-19 cases were state police officers.
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