SPONSORED:

26 Mississippi legislators test positive for COVID-19 after outbreak tied to state Capitol

A coronavirus outbreak linked to the Mississippi state Capitol has infected more than 20 state lawmakers, according to a top health officer. 

State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs told The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger that 36 people who work at the Capitol have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, including 26 lawmakers. The figure means that about 1 in 6 legislators have contracted the virus. 

The leaders of both chambers — Speaker Philip Gunn (R) and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (R) — are among those who have tested positive. Dobbs said that the Mississippi Health Department is actively monitoring the outbreak, noting that 290 people have been tested at the Capitol so far this week. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The uptick in infections follows a month in which many legislators worked in the Capitol without following health guidelines recommending the use of face masks. Legislators convened in late June to advance an ultimately successful proposal to remove a Confederate symbol from the state flag.

State Rep. Ronnie Crudup Jr. (D) said in a Facebook post Wednesday that he had contracted the coronavirus. In a statement, he said that he wore a mask 95 percent of the time while "around the Capitol and public places" but emphasized that the 5 percent of the time he did not may have made the difference. 

"I'm sharing all of this to hopefully educate and put a familiar face with the issue at hand," he said.

As of Thursday morning, Mississippi health authorities had reported nearly 33,000 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state and about 1,180 deaths caused by it. The news of an outbreak at the Capitol arrives as several parts of the U.S. experience a surge in infections, prompting some states to pause reopening plans and institute measures requiring face masks in public spaces. 

At least 22 states and Washington, D.C., have implemented mask requirements, according to a tally maintained by The Hill