JEFFERSON CITY, MO. (KSN) – Missouri’s first confirmed cases of coronavirus have led legislative leaders from both parties, in both chambers, to consider steps to minimize exposure to the virus among Capitol lawmakers, staff, and visitors.
With hundreds of lawmakers and thousands of guests frequently traveling back and forth from every corner of Missouri, the Capitol is an environment that will be highly susceptible to spreading infections like the coronavirus. As such, the leaders of the General Assembly; including Senate President Pro-Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan), Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia), Senate Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo (D-Independence), House Speaker Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield), House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold), and House Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield); are encouraging guests who are not directly participating in legislative business to refrain from visiting the Capitol at this time.
Due to the large number of House members and their close proximity to guests and one another, House leadership will be taking additional precautions including closing the floor of the House Chamber to the public as well as some public places, like the House Lounge, which are difficult to disinfect on a regular basis.
“It is out of an abundance of caution that the General Assembly is taking the preventative steps to minimize the risk of an outbreak in Missouri,” said Speaker Haahr. “While the General Assembly continues to conduct business as normal, we will closely monitor the situation to take necessary actions to maintain a safe environment that will ensure the health and wellbeing of all those who work in, and visit, the Capitol.”
“Schools, advocacy groups, and the public at large should strongly consider the reality that a large and diverse population travels to and from the Capitol on a daily basis,” said Senator Schatz. “Most people will not be at risk but, as with any other infectious disease, we need to remain vigilant because populations we may come in contact with, such as the elderly or those with weakened immune systems, are at risk.”
Missourians are also encouraged to take the following simple preventative measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus: wash your hands regularly, avoid close personal contact, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, and stay home if you are sick.
Lawmakers will continue to work with state and federal health officials to ensure public health resources are ready and can be used where they are needed, without delay.