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McConnell: 'Congress will continue to do our work' amid coronavirus

McConnell: 'Congress will continue to do our work' amid coronavirus
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell says 'no concerns' after questions about health Overnight Health Care: Trump says he hopes Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare | FDA approves remdesivir as COVID-19 treatment | Dems threaten to subpoena HHS over allegations of political interference at CDC The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday threw his support behind a decision to limit public access to the Capitol while signaling the Senate will otherwise continue business as normal.

"Congress will continue to do our work. Offices will be able to welcome constituents and visitors for meetings and official business by appointment," McConnell said from the Senate floor. 

"But in deference to the experts, and to protect the health of the many Americans who travel to our nation’s capital, tourism and nonofficial access to the Capitol and the complex will be put on pause," he added.

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McConnell's comments come after new restrictions were issued for visiting the Capitol complex. In addition to suspending Capitol tours, access to the Capitol and the House and Senate office buildings "will be limited to members, staff, credentialed press and official business visitors."

“Their decision was made in close consultation with the Attending Physician of the United States Congress, Dr. Brian Monahan. I fully support the decision of these nonpartisan officers," McConnell added.

McConnell's comments come after the Capitol Hill community got its first case of coronavirus when Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein Hillicon Valley: Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives | Amazon says over 19,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19 | Democrats demand DHS release report warning of election interference Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives MORE (D-Wash.) announced that a staffer had tested positive.

Congressional leadership has been under growing pressure to limit access to the building, or change the congressional schedule, to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Anxiety on Capitol Hill has been particularly high given the advanced age of a large swath of lawmakers. 

The House has held several meetings with the attending physician to try to encourage best practices including hand-washing, avoiding shaking hands and "social distancing." But avoiding crowds in the Capitol has been difficult.

Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzQuinnipiac poll finds Biden, Trump tied in Texas China could cut our access to critical minerals at any time — here's why we need to act The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Two weeks out, Trump attempts to rally the base MORE (R-Texas) and Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonCotton mocks NY Times over claim of nonpartisanship, promises to submit op-eds as test Barrett fight puts focus on abortion in 2020 election COVID outbreak threatens GOP's Supreme Court plans MORE (R-Ark.) announced on Thursday that they would temporarily close their Washington, D.C., offices and let their staff telework.