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Speaker DeLeo Says At Least 6 Virus Cases Now Tied To State House

Staff members from Clean Harbors, a company that offers COVID-19 decontamination and disposal services, pulled on yellow jumpsuits before entering the House speaker's office. (Sam Doran/SHNS)
Staff members from Clean Harbors, a company that offers COVID-19 decontamination and disposal services, pulled on yellow jumpsuits before entering the House speaker's office. (Sam Doran/SHNS)

A third House lawmaker in as many days has tested positive for COVID-19 and three more legislative employees contracted the virus, including two who were at the State House last week, according to an email sent by Speaker Robert DeLeo Sunday night to legislators and staff.

DeLeo alerted the House on Sunday evening that he had been informed on Saturday that another legislator and a House employee had contracted the coronavirus, but neither had been at the State House in weeks.

The member, who is the third House lawmaker to have tested positive since Friday, was last at the State House on July 31, which was a day when the House and Senate finished what is the traditional end of the legislative session with a flurry of votes and activity. This year's session was extended.

The speaker's office said the employee who tested positive Saturday was at the State House more recently on Oct. 27, but neither reported having any close contacts with other members or employees, DeLeo wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by the News Service.

Separately, the speaker's office said it found out Sunday that two additional House employees had tested positive for COVID-19, with one reporting having been at the State House on Monday, Nov. 9 and the other last there on Thursday, Nov. 12.

Thursday was the day the House passed a $46 billion annual state budget bill, after which two legislators who had been present for the budget debate tested positive on Friday. DeLeo said all close contacts of the two employees who were at the State House last week have been notified.

"As we all know from daily news reports the virus continues to circulate in the community. Therefore, we will very likely have more self-reported cases from Members and employees in the coming days and weeks," DeLeo wrote in his email. "Should we become aware of additional cases of COVID-19, we will implement our COVID-19 response protocol and notify all Members and staff."

The speaker's office has not identified any legislators or staff who have tested positive, citing health confidentiality laws, but DeLeo said all offices used by infected employees will undergo environmental cleaning before anyone is allowed to return to those spaces.

DeLeo further reminded that only staff who are "essential to the discharge of House operations, including sessions of the House, should be physically at the State House at this point."

The State House has not reopened to the public since it was closed in March. The Senate plans to debate its version of the fiscal 2021 state budget this week, which will to bring some senators and staff from that branch back to the building.

This article was originally published on November 14, 2020.

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