BOSTON (SHNS) – Four people who were in the State House as recently as Tuesday have tested positive for COVID-19, House officials announced Thursday, the latest in a string of infections linked to the building amid a period of rising case counts.
The House’s human resources office notified representatives and staffers that the latest four individuals who contracted the virus were last in the State House “on Tuesday, May 10th or before.” Officials said they notified anyone who had been in close contact with the people who tested positive and had masks — which are not required in the State House — available “on an as-needed basis” in the House Business Office.
Since April 25, legislative leaders have published eight notifications about COVID-19 exposures representing at least 25 cases. Infections and hospitalizations have been increasing in Massachusetts since March, though current counts remain well below the wintertime peak and widespread vaccinations and treatments have helped blunt the virus’s impact.
Top Democrats said Wednesday they have no plans to change protocols in the House or Senate, where representatives and staff are subject to a vaccine mandate to participate in-person but are no longer obligated to wear masks. Visitors have been welcome in the State House since Feb. 22 following a nearly two-year closure, and since March 7, anyone can enter the building unmasked and without providing proof they are vaccinated or have recently tested negative.
Both branches have been quiet this week, meeting only in lightly attended informal sessions, but the Legislature is in the midst of a busier stretch as it approaches the July 31 deadline to wrap up formal business for the 2021-2022 session. House Speaker Ronald Mariano’s office has advised representatives of two potential formal sessions next week, on May 18 and May 19, and the Senate plans to kick off several days of budget debate on May 24.