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Alaska Legislature

Alaska House member tests positive for COVID-19

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: February 25
  • Published February 24

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 in Juneau. (James Brooks / ADN)

JUNEAU — A member of the Alaska House of Representatives has tested positive for COVID-19, and House Speaker Louise Stutes has canceled all Thursday meetings in the state House as a precaution.

The identity of the COVID-positive lawmaker was not released as Stutes announced the test result in an email to all legislators Wednesday night.

Jessica Geary, executive director of the agency that manages the Capitol building and legislative staff, said more information will be available Thursday.

Austin Baird, a spokesman for the House’s 20-member majority, also promised additional details in the morning.

Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said the Senate has not canceled meetings. He said senators are awaiting the results of contact tracing to determine whether any senators or Senate staff have been exposed, and staffers and legislators vulnerable to COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home.

“We’re not going to be cavalier with this, but we’re also not going to overreact,” he said.

The Alaska State Capitol has been closed to the public since March 2020. Only legislators, staff, members of the news media, members of the governor’s office and the occasional special guest, such as U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, have been allowed inside.

Anyone admitted to the Capitol must undergo a COVID-19 test and temperature screening. Regular visitors must be tested twice per week and are checked for symptoms and fevers daily.

Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy tested positive for COVID-19 and is suffering mild symptoms, his office said. It isn’t clear how the governor and the unnamed House member contracted COVID, or whether the two cases are related.

Dunleavy hasn’t been in Juneau recently, and many legislators traveled out of the capital city over the weekend on state and personal business. Six Republican legislators and the governor attended a Saturday banquet in Palmer hosted by the Alaska Outdoor Council, but according to a spokesman for the Senate majority and the council’s director, the governor’s office does not believe Dunleavy was infected there.

While Alaska’s COVID-19 case rate has declined in recent weeks, most regions of Alaska remain in the highest alert category based on the current per capita rate of infection.

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