Lawmakers reflect on COVID-19 risks as 8 test positive

11 other lawmakers are suspected to have the virus.

Lawmakers reflect on COVID-19 risks in State Capitol

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Here’s what we know about the Capitol outbreak thus far. Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann notified Senators Tuesday that he has tested positive. That development comes just days after Speaker of the House Philip Gunn announced his positive diagnosis.

So far, we’re told there are 8 confirmed cases and 11 suspected cases linked to the outbreak.

But talk of COVID-19 was intermingled with discussions of the budget, state flag and other issues at the Capitol in the final days of the session. Rep. Earle Banks says he was on edge about it before the news broke of multiple cases.

“We had several discussions of the fact that there is coronavirus in this chamber,” said Rep. Banks. “It has not been exposed yet. It’s here. But it’s here. It’s going to come up and when it does. It’s going to strike with a vengeance. It was really a free for all in the House as far as I’m concerned.”

Sen. Joey Fillingane notes that strict guidelines were in place initially but it was difficult as it was time for floor debates especially.

“Scanning everyone’s foreheads to check for temperature changes but really beyond that, there were very little mandatory precautions,” noted Fllingane. “We were encouraged to wear masks. Some did, some didn’t. I did at times. At other times I didn’t.”

Fillingane says they knew the risks but were trying to do the work they were elected to complete.

“When you get that many people into a confined space, it becomes a real petri dish of germs and viruses that we’re all sort of exposed to unfortunately,” added Fillingane.

Rep. Jeramey Anderson say it’s a risky lesson learned.

“My hope is that even outside of this situation we’re in that the general public will see this as an opportunity to learn that this thing is real and what we’re seeing in the Capitol could happen within our communities very fast,” said Anderson.

He’s also hopeful it will spark a change with statewide guidelines.

“This is day 2,” Anderson explained. “I’m tracking the days. This is day 2 of my ask for the Governor. My office will be sending him a letter, an official letter, asking him to consider a mask mandate.”

There was a mobile testing location set at the State Capitol Monday. The Mississippi Department of Health says 270 people were tested and that includes lawmakers and staff.

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