/Legislators pay price for disregarding COVID-19 precautions at Capitol

Legislators pay price for disregarding COVID-19 precautions at Capitol

A few seconds later, several other Republicans joined the group without wearing masks. A masked reporter stood near the door and said to the group: “You guys don’t worry about the coronavirus.” One member of the face-to–face conversation looked at the other, exclaiming, “Yeah! Get away from me!” The other let out an imitative cough. Everyone laughed, even the reporter. This scene is no longer funny because these two legislators are among at least 30 and at most 11 legislative staffers who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two weeks. Gunn and Lieutenant Governor. Delbert Hosemann (who preside over the Senate) was among those who were positive. This anecdote was not shared to embarrass. As the Legislature was in session in June, there were many other similar incidents in Mississippi Capitol that were not captured by a reporter. The episode highlights the sloppy attitude of many legislators regarding the coronavirus, especially given the lengthening session. Because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature had to suspend the session in March. Gunn and Hosemann took strict measures when lawmakers returned to the Capitol in May. They also limited the number of members present in each chamber. As people entered the Capitol, temperature checks were performed. Robert Johnson, House Democratic Leader from Natchez said that the speaker had a plan when they returned from recess. Johnson stated that the original precautions were not followed as closely as they should have been and that he expects legislators to return to the Capitol within the next few days. Johnson also said that a mandate for masks will be implemented. Johnson stated that everyone should now understand the importance of wearing a mask. Johnson said, “It is a little bothersome, but not that much of a inconvenience.” Some legislators who contracted the coronavirus were known to wear masks every day. Rep. Bo Brown (D-Jackson), who has confirmed that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, was rarely seen in the Capitol without his mask. Many who fell ill never wore masks. While not all Democrats wore masks, most did. Not all Republicans avoided wearing masks. However, many did. Experts in health have confirmed that wearing a mask protects more than just the person wearing it. It also protects anyone who comes into contact with it. Everyone will benefit from the added protection provided by a mask. Thomas Dobbs, State Health Officer, cited a Centers for Disease Control Study in which two hairdressers tested positive for COVID-19. However, none of the 130 clients contracted the virus. This is presumably due to the fact that the stylists were wearing masks. Dobbs stated that masks are a “pretty strong endorsement” of their effectiveness. “The more data available” shows “what an easy, simple, and effective intervention it is.” Hosemann, Gunn, and others set excellent examples by wearing masks in public. Many of these safeguards were abandoned as the session progressed. There was intense debate over the changing of the state flag, the disbursement of $1 billion in federal funds to COVID-19 relief, and the funding of state agencies during economic uncertainty. The Legislature may be a microcosmos of the state. Dobbs stated that Mississippi is experiencing record numbers of coronavirus infections now, due to Mississippians letting down their collective guard against the pandemic. Dobbs stated in a recording meeting that July 10: “It’s impossible to control a panademic when people A), think it’s fake and B) find every reason not to follow the rules.” The pandemic is hindering the state’s full reopening. Meanwhile, lawmakers are being delayed by the coronavirus epidemic at the Capitol. This is holding up their return to the Capitol to discuss the critical issues of funding the Department of Marine Resources as well as taking up Gov. Tate Reeves’ veto over the education budget for kindergarten-12th grades was a slap in the face. Reeves, who believes in wearing a mask, even though there have been high-profile instances where he has not, said that these entities could survive in the short-term without legislative action. Reeves stated that both entities are able to function in the current situation. It is not perfect. “No… We are in a position where we will bring them back at the appropriate time if it is safe. Public health should be the priority in legislative action.” This is why part of the 2020 legislative session was devoted to public health concerns.