From Oregon to Pennsylvania, legislatures across country split on pandemic protocols | Analysis

In many states, as voting sessions resume for 2022, you’d hardly know that the U.S. is entering the third year of a pandemic

By: - January 19, 2022 10:37 am

Members of the Pennsylvania House applaud newly elected Speaker Bryan Cutler on June 22, 2020. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

In 2020, during the first few months of the pandemic, state lawmakers in both chambers of  Pennsylvania’s General Assembly could vote remotely. 

However, that provision was only temporary and has since expired. 

The Capital-Star reported last June that Capitol staff would be returning to Harrisburg, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended mitigation measures. 

The policy, most recently updated in July 2021, recommends Senate employees practice social distancing, wear a mask, especially if unvaccinated, and frequently wash or sanitize their hands to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Senate policy also requires that employees report COVID-19 symptoms to their supervisor, who then notifies caucus staff. 

Pa. Health Department, PEMA coordinate COVID-19 regional support sites, Wolf says

That policy led to tensions between the two parties in May 2020, when Republican state Rep. Andrew Lewis, of Dauphin County, tested positive for the virus and GOP leadership failed to notify House Democratic officials. 

Since the start of the pandemic, more than a dozen Pennsylvania lawmakers have tested positive for the virus, including House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, and most recently, state Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Philadelphia.

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