JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi lawmakers are on standby to return to the Capitol on Monday. It’s been a month since it was announced it was the center of a COVID-19 outbreak. Nearly 50 members and staff tested positive in the days and weeks after their departure.
Ask lawmakers if they think it’s safe to return and you’ll get a similar reaction.
“We’ve learned our lesson,” said Sen. John Horhn.
“I think we’ve learned from our past mistakes,” noted Rep. Tom Miles.
“I just hope that we as grown men and women, responsible folk, learned our lesson,” added Rep. John Faulkner.
A Monday return will be one week from the day that Rep. Earle Banks was released from a 17-day hospital stay for COVID and other complications.
“I found out I had double pneumonia, pneumonia in both lungs,” said Rep. Banks. “It makes you concerned that even though I’ve had this, there’s no guarantee that I cannot catch this virus again which I do not want to do.”
They are expected to return to handle the education budget that was partially vetoed by the governor. It would take a 2/3 vote to override that veto. But when it comes to the question of safety, Representative Tom Miles raises this question.
“How can we send our children back to school and not go back and do our jobs?” asked Miles.
Members say they believe folks will be more careful with not all working from the House and Senate floors and wearing masks this go-around. But Rep. John Faulkner tested positive after they left and never ran a fever. He thinks the temperature checks may have provided a false sense of security for some.
“Once we get through that door and get a good temp we can’t assume everybody’s okay and I think that happened also,” said Faulkner. “You got your little sticker on the jacket and you’re all good but that’s not the case.”
Sen. John Horhn thinks there is another layer they could consider adding.
“It would be great if we had testing available for anybody who wants it,” explained Horhn. “If I were the Lt. Governor or Speaker, I’d make it mandatory.”
Governor Tate Reeves referenced in a press briefing this week that at least one member of the legislature tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days.