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House of Delegates staffer tests positive for COVID-19

CHARLESTON — An employee of the West Virginia House of Delegates has tested positive for the virus, the House speaker said.

Employees, delegates and individuals who have had contact with the staff of the Clerk’s Office this week are being advised to quarantine immediately, monitor themselves for symptoms and be tested for COVID-19.

“We are saddened to learn this virus has now afflicted someone in our House family,” said House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said on Thursday.

The announcement comes after delegates and senators have written letters seeking a special session of the Legislature to discuss the $1.25 billion through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The Clerk’s Office has been closed, Hanshaw said.

“We take this matter very seriously,” he said. “We have closed our Clerk’s Office until it can be thoroughly sanitized and are encouraging all who may have come into contact with that office or its staff to quarantine and be tested.”

The employee who tested positive was present during Monday’s Health and Human Resources Committee meeting in the chambers of the House.

Despite employees required to social distance and wear face masks, anyone present at the meeting is encouraged to quarantine, be tested and monitor for symptoms.

Delegate Vernon Criss, R-Wood, is a member of the committee and was at the meeting Monday in the Chambers. He said Friday he plans to take all precautions.

Also at meeting was Bill Crouch, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, Dr. Clay Marsh, who administers the state’s pandemic response, state public health officer Dr. Ayne Amjad and Maj. Gen. James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard. All were wearing masks.

Marsh, speaking at the governor’s coronavirus briefing on Friday, said there is minimal risk to the people who were at the meeting. Everyone was wearing a face covering and were socially distanced and the employee in question also was wearing a mask, according to Marsh.

“The risk to anybody there was really minimized,” he said.

House leadership has arranged for testing Friday morning to be available to staff and others who may have had exposure to the Clerk’s Office.

“Since our staff returned to the Capitol last month, we have implemented social distancing measures in our offices,” Hanshaw said. “All employees have also been made aware of and are expected to comply with the governor’s facial covering mandate while inside the Capitol building. We are hopeful these measures have contained any potential spread, but regardless, we will continue to be diligent, follow all health guidelines and do what we can to prevent further spread of this terrible virus.”

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