STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, NOV. 13, 2020 (State House News Service) - Two members of the Massachusetts House tested positive for COVID-19 Friday, according to an email Speaker Robert DeLeo sent to representatives and staff members that was obtained by the News Service.
The representatives were last in the building on Thursday, the same day the House held its final budget session. Any member or staff person who came into contact with the infected members, either on Tuesday or Thursday, has been notified, according to the email.
"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," the email read. "Should we become aware of additional cases of COVID-19, we will implement our COVID-19 response protocol and will notify all members and staff."
Federal and state regulations prohibit the speaker's office from identifying the members who tested positive for COVID-19. DeLeo urged members to notify his office immediately if they, or a staff member, reports exposure to, symptoms of, or are considered a presumptive or confirmed case of COVID-19.
"It remains our intent to be fully transparent at every step, consistent with state and federal regulations governing confidential health information," the email said. "As you know, limiting misinformation is beneficial for everyone in these unsettled times."
A crew from Clean Harbors garbed in bright yellow hazmat suits could be seen cleaning offices in the State House on Friday night including those of Legislative Information Services and the House speaker. Doors to the House Ways and Means suite were left propped open Friday and the lights in the House Chamber were turned on.
"All offices/office suites used by the members on either Tuesday, November 10, 2020 or Thursday, November 12, 2020 (as well as the House Chamber and the affected members' work areas) will receive a comprehensive environmental cleaning before members and employees will be permitted to return to those spaces," the email read.
Rep. Paul Donato, a member of DeLeo's leadership team, said he had received a call that somebody had tested positive and that he may have been in contact with them. He said he planned to get a COVID-19 test on Saturday.
"I did receive a call saying that somebody had tested positive and I might have been in contact. I don't know who," Donato said. "Someone tested positive, that's the only thing I know ... I just hope whoever has it is, is ok."
The vast majority of the House's current 159 members participated in Tuesday and Thursday budget sessions remotely, working with about 15 representatives who were physically present in the House chamber. The representatives and more than half a dozen staff members present in the chamber during the sessions wore masks.
Separately, a spokesman for Senate President Karen Spilka said the Senate learned Friday that a person present in that branch's side of the building had been in close contact with an individual outside the State House who tested positive for COVID-19.
The confirmed case is not a State House employee, the spokesman said.
"The person in close contact has since tested negative for COVID-19 and is following public health protocols," a statement from the Senate president's office said. "Although there are currently no confirmed cases in the Senate, out of an abundance of caution, those who had been in contact with the person have been notified. Impacted rooms will also undergo an environmental cleaning.
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