SACRAMENTO (AP) – The California Senate will meet Thursday without most of its Republican members after a GOP state senator tested positive for the coronavirus.

Republican state Sen. Brian Jones confirmed in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he had tested positive for the virus. Jones was on the Senate floor on Monday with his colleagues. He also attended a Republican caucus lunch on Tuesday, where 10 of the 11 members sat around a large conference table and removed their masks to eat, according to Republican state Sen. John Moorlach.

The Senate canceled its session on Wednesday, but plans to meet Thursday at noon. All senators and staff who have been exposed to the virus won’t be in the building, according to Niesha Fritz, spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins. Fritz said senators would not vote remotely.

Moorlach said Senate Republicans will be tested for the virus at 3 p.m. Thursday. Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove declined to comment.

“I feel frustrated obviously that I’m prepared and ready to go but I’m being asked not to, so what else can I say,” said Moorlach, who said he has no symptoms of the disease,

This is a crucial time for state lawmakers because they cannot meet after Monday. They still have hundreds of bills pending, including police reform issues inspired by the killing of George Floyd in May and a proposal to protect people from eviction who cannot pay their rent because of the coronavirus.

But the coronavirus is making it difficult for lawmakers to do their work. They have already been delayed twice, once in March at the start of the pandemic and again in July after at least seven people who work at the Capitol – including two lawmakers – tested positive for the disease. Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey was briefly hospitalized.

This latest outbreak also includes a California Highway Patrol officer who works in the Capitol. The officer was last in the building on Tuesday, but had no contact with senators or their staff members, according to a memo from Secretary of the Senate Erika Contreras.

Anyone entering the Capitol from the public entrances must be screened for symptoms, including temperature checks. But those screenings did not apply to lawmakers and staff, who usually enter the building from the parking garage.

Legislative leaders have asked lawmakers and staff to “self screen” at home and not to come to work if they have symptoms. But health officials have said some people who contract the virus never show symptoms.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some – especially older adults and people with existing health problems – it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.


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