Pa. Senate staffer tested for COVID-19; results could affect session schedule

By March 16, 2020 No Comments

By Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison
For the Pittsburgh Current

A Senate Democratic staffer based in Harrisburg was tested for COVID-19 Friday, the first known connection of the pandemic to the Capitol.

The staffer, speaking to the Capital-Star on condition of anonymity, said they were tested Friday after experiencing respiratory symptoms. They did not expect results until Thursday.

Brittany Crampsie, a spokesperson for the Senate Democrats, declined to comment.

The staffer added that they and their coworkers are now in self-quarantine. The staffers’ understanding was that their office has been cleaned after the test to prevent any possibility of spread.

The Senate was due to convene for session this week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Harrisburg.

Senate Republican leaders announced over the weekend that they would cancel Monday’s session activity and implement a 12-hour call, which would allow Senate leaders to summon Senators to Harrisburg on 12 hours notice.

Jenn Kocher, a spokeswoman for the Senate Republican caucus, said the Senate is still scheduled to return to Harrisburg on Tuesday but is navigating the unprecedented situation “day by day.”

Kocher said Senate Democrats alerted the Republican caucus that one of their staffers had been tested for the virus, and that the test results would factor into Republican leaders’ decision to return to Harrisburg or cancel session days.

Kocher said state lawmakers need to pass legislation related to the emergency COVID response, including a bill relieving schools from the state’s 180-day instruction requirement.

“We’ve been trying to balance the critical needs of passing legislation … with public health concerns,” Kocher told the Capital-Star Monday.

Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison are staff writers for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star where this story first appeared.

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