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Coronavirus case in California capitol delays Senate session

A person who works at the California Capitol has tested positive for the coronavirus, delaying the Legislature in the critical final week of session as hundreds of bills face a Monday deadline.

Posted: Aug 26, 2020 12:07 PM
Updated: Aug 26, 2020 12:56 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A person who works at the California Capitol has tested positive for the coronavirus, delaying the Legislature in the critical final week of session as hundreds of bills face a Monday deadline.

Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins’ office confirmed the case on Wednesday. Her office could not say if the case was a lawmaker or a staffer. The Senate delayed a 10 a.m. session to vote on legislation, including several police reform bills filed following the death of George Floyd in May.

An email sent to senators and staff asked them to “hold in place for the next hour or so” and urged people who had not yet arrived at the Capitol to stay home. In the Assembly, lawmakers still planned to meet at 1 p.m.

The California Legislature has already been delayed twice because of the coronavirus. The first delay happened in March at the start of the pandemic and lasted for two months. The second delay happened in July after seven people in the Capitol tested positive, including two lawmakers.

Lawmakers have taken precautions to continue meeting during the pandemic, including requiring everyone to wear a mask inside the Capitol and enforcing physical distancing. The Assembly and Senate also approved rule changes to allow lawmakers to vote remotely.

Another delay could mean lawmakers will run out of time on high-profile issues, including a proposal to extend eviction protections for people impacted by the pandemic. The current protections are set to expire on Sept. 2.

State legislatures around the country have struggled to contain the virus while conducting in-person meetings to pass bills, a problem compounded by the questionable legality of remote meetings. In Mississippi, 49 lawmakers tested positive for the virus, with at least four being hospitalized. In Michigan, the Legislature canceled meetings earlier this month after a state Senator tested positive.

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