An unnamed member of the Alaska House of Representatives has tested positive for COVID-19, House Speaker Louise Stutes announced Wednesday night.
In response, the House has canceled all in-person meetings for today and has told all members and staff to stay away from the building while it is being cleaned. At least one House committee meeting may be held telephonically.
“I am saddened to inform you that a House Member has tested positive for covid-19,” Stutes wrote. “After consultation with (Legislative Affairs Agency) and in order to protect the safety of our members and staff, all committee meetings tomorrow are cancelled. I am asking that members and staff not enter the building tomorrow unless absolutely necessary in order to allow the appropriate response, contact tracing, and cleaning to occur.”
The Senate has already passed a measure that would allow floor sessions to continue through infections by allowing individual members to attend remotely. The House has not yet passed a similar measure.
The news came on the same day that Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that he had tested positive for covid-19 after a close contact sometime on Saturday with someone who later tested positive for the virus.
The identity of the House member who contracted covid-19 is not immediately available, but several members of both the House and Senate have been frequently traveling in and out of Juneau on the weekends. Several Republicans were photographed without masks at a fundraiser in Palmer over the weekend, which Dunleavy also attended, though spokespersons for both the House and Senate Republicans told the Alaska Landmine that none had “prolonged contact” with the governor. The governor’s administration has also said they believe the governor’s close contact with the virus came after the fundraiser.
The Senate appeared ready to continue with in-person meetings but the first meeting of the day, the Senate Finance Committee, has been canceled.
The news comes a week and a half after the state’s disaster declaration expired after the Legislature failed to pass legislation extending it and the governor’s administration refused to unilaterally extend it for a fourth time. Both Dunleavy and many Republicans had expressed optimism about the outlook for the state’s pandemic and have supported a “path to normalcy.”