A coronavirus outbreak in the Mississippi State Capitol Building infected 36 people, including 26 lawmakers, according to the state’s highest health official.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs confirmed the COVID-19 infections and said about 290 people were tested at the Jackson capital as a result of the detection of the outbreak.
Governor Tate Reeves, who tweeted that he was being tested after hearing about the outbreak, later said he and his three daughters were also infected.
Reeves urged people who came in contact with lawmakers on Wednesday to get tested. Legislators also stay away from the capital for at least two weeks.
A coronavirus outbreak in the Mississippi State Capitol Building infected 36 people, including 26 lawmakers, according to the state’s highest health official. The capital was pictured earlier this month when Mississippi retired its state flag
A coronavirus outbreak in the Mississippi State Capitol Building infected 36 people, including 26 lawmakers. Governor Tate Reeves (photo), who tweeted he was being tested after hearing about the outbreak, said he and his three daughters were also infected
Among the legislators who have tested positive are the leaders of both chambers, speaker Philip Gunn and Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, the Clarion Ledger reports.
Representative Sam Mims was also infected, the Enterprise Journal reports.
A state health spokesperson declined to identify who else was infected with COVID-19, citing privacy laws.
Gunn, Hosemann, and Mims, as well as Reeves, are all Republicans.
In the United States, there have been more than 3 million cases of the coronavirus, of which more than 132,000 have been blamed. There are nearly 33,000 confirmed cases in Mississippi and more than 1,100 deaths.
Hinds County, where Jackson is based, has had more than 2,600 cases of the virus, of which fewer than 50 are blamed.
The capitol outbreak comes just days after Jackson’s Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba required a face mask for people in public places, both indoors and outdoors.
Home speaker Philip Gunn, who appeared unmasked earlier this month at an event in which the Mississippi flag was withdrawn, was among the legislators who came up with COVID-19
Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, pictured left at the same event without a mask, was also contaminated by COVID-19. A third representative of the legislator, Sam Mims, also tested positive
The measure, rather than a state-wide mandate, was in line with several cities across the country that are imposing stricter mandates to mitigate a recent wave of new cases.
However, several legislators at the capital and other officials chose to go without facials.
“You can look around here now and see people walking around without masks,” masked representative Omeria Scott told Clarion Ledger on Tuesday as she sat at her desk on the floor of the house.
The democratic legislator and member of the public health commission made the comment after other legislators, like the governor, went without masks after being urged to do so by state health officials.
Reeves blamed Sunday for a recent surge in Black Lives Matter protests, saying the “ liberal media ” was out of place for claiming “ Memorial BBQ family BBQs ” were the culprit.
Some lawmakers in a recent Senate Committee on Public Health wore masks while the participants were kept apart so they could practice social distance, the Clarion Ledger reports.
About half of the legislators and a third of the spectators used facials at a recent committee meeting full of house rules.
On the floor of the house, desks are close together and not all legislators have worn masks during the session.
“You can’t lead from behind,” said Scott, the Democratic representative. “We should be leaders.”