Presumed case of COVID-19 in Minnesota House of Representatives

A Minnesota House of Representatives employee has a presumed case of coronavirus, officials reported.

It’s unclear if the person is a lawmaker or a staffer. House Speaker Melissa Hortman cited data privacy laws as the reason she could not say. An internal email obtained by FOX 9 only identifies the person as “someone who works for the House.”

Minnesota lawmakers left the Capitol early Tuesday morning for up to a month-long break because of the coronavirus, though it’s likely that they will return sooner to deal with emergency legislation.

"The Minnesota House of Representatives is continuing to follow the guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health to keep legislators, staff, and the public safe as we do our work to respond to this pandemic," Hortman wrote in an emailed statement.

Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday that he wants the Legislature to return to the Capitol this week to pass coronavirus legislation – including a change on restrictions for child care facilities – but acknowledged that the House employee’s case will complicate matters.

“I would,” Walz said, when asked if he wanted lawmakers to return this week, “but I would put a caveat on that. I don’t want them to be put at risk.” 
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said this week that lawmakers could return as early as March 26.

Before leaving the Capitol, legislative leaders said they would still hold committee and floor sessions on an on-call basis. The session break came days after Walz issued an executive order declaring a peacetime state of emergency and called for a moratorium on large gatherings in the state.

Wednesday, Minnesota Department of Health officials said it was unclear how long social distancing measures may stay in place.