Another COVID-19 case reported in Oregon Capitol
Another person at the Oregon Capitol has been reported as infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, but the case will not trigger additional shutdowns of legislative proceedings.
The Oregon House already canceled daily sessions until Monday, April 26 — the third such cancellation during the 2021 Legislature — because an infected person may have had contact with others on the House floor on April 15.
"The new person was also last in the building on April 15, same as the prior individual, so there are no further impacts to schedules at this point," Lindsey O'Brien, chief of staff to House Speaker Tina Kotek, said in a memo.
The latest COVID-19 notification went out on Wednesday afternoon, April 21. Legislative committees have been meeting virtually since the start of the 2021 session and the shutdowns have not affected their meetings.
Because of federal health privacy laws, people with reported infections have not been identified.
Three cases prompted the suspension of House floor sessions the week of March 22-26, March 29, and most recently, starting Tuesday, April 20. A fourth infected person was deemed to have low risk of contact with members and staff, and no shutdown occurred.
Access to the House chamber has been restricted to members and staff during the pandemic, and this session's rules limit the number of members to 25 on the floor at any time. A minimum of 40 is required for the chamber to do business, but others can be in the galleries or in their offices in the House wing.
The Senate, which has half the House's 60 members, has not been affected directly by shutdowns.
However, Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, was compelled on Thursday, April 22, to invoke the constitutional requirement that one chamber cannot adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other. The Senate gave its consent, 27-1.
Courtney did ask members and staff to review the protocols established by the Legislature, in cooperation with state health officials, to minimize the risk of infections.
"We are struggling right now with it and I think you understand what I am saying," he said. "Please go back and review those protocols and try to remind yourselves that we are not there (end of pandemic). We are in a situation at this time that we are trying to deal with."
Courtney also said he would not ask whether members and staff have obtained COVID-19 vaccinations. But he offered assistance to anyone who is seeking them. All Oregonians age 16 and up were deemed eligible for vaccinations on April 19.
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