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Editor’s Thought Bubble: The Capitol COVID outbreak is coming

By: - January 15, 2021 9:00 am

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What happens when the inevitable COVID outbreak happens at the Capitol during this year’s legislative session? Both the state House and Senate have protocols in place to reduce the spread of the illness, though the House’s requirements are laughably weak, chiefly because they are mere suggestions to the legislators. As we saw on Monday, when the chamber conducted two swearing-in ceremonies (the maskless were given their own ceremony), there are some two dozen Republicans who refuse to abide by the chamber’s requirement that everyone wear masks. With the numbers of staff required to make a legislative session happen, it’s inevitable that an outbreak will happen — and the House is more susceptible, both because of lawmakers being allowed to flout the rules and because there are more people crammed into the same amount of space that the Senate has.

So, what happens when an outbreak occurs? While much of the focus will be on which legislators fall ill, the reality is that it is going to affect the policy advisors and security guards and administrative assistants and back-office staff. Will we see a legislative building shut down in the event of an outbreak? Time will tell.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.