Add the Missouri Senate to the growing list of places taking measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. The upper chamber has called off next week’s session.
As for the House, Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, says the House Budget Committee will meet Sunday and the full House will return next Wednesday. On Twitter, Haahr says the House will pass a state budget next week.
During a press conference today at the state Capitol, Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, says many events and schools have taken precautions to protect themselves against the respiratory illness.
“We feel it may be in the best interest for us to not be in this petri dish that we all show up in every week,” says Schatz. “With nothing seriously pressing the Senate, the decision was made from a cautious – not a panic perspective – to take next week off and see how this progresses.”
One positive coronavirus case in Missouri has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The victim is a St. Louis County woman in her 20s who returned last week from studying abroad in Italy.
A group of Mizzou Journalism School students in Columbia went to the same conference as someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. The organization Investigative Reporters and Editors says the patient has mild symptoms after spending a few days late last week at the conference in New Orleans.
Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, says no particular incident led to the move.
“We come from all over the state, as do all the other people who come here,” says Rowden. “Even to take that a step further, people who fly in to testify on bills, they’re flying in from other states. We have no understanding of where they’ve come from, the variables around their situation.”
The Legislature’s spring break is the week of March 23. That means Senators will be out until at least March 30. Rowden says the return date could change, depending how things play out with virus concerns.
“We’re going to get done what we need to get done. We’re going to pass a budget,” says Rowden. “If we need to get creative in figuring out how we do that, we’re willing to do that. We’ll get done what we need to get done. The state of Missouri is running, everything is fine but we need to be prepared. Being proactive and figuring on the back end that you were too cautious is much, much better than the reverse.”
Senate offices will be closed through March 29, but employees are supposed to work from home during regular business hours.
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