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Boise State Public Radio News is here to keep you current on the news surrounding COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Second Idaho Legislative Staffer Tests Positive For COVID-19

James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho state Capitol has reported its second confirmed case of COVID-19 among staff, prompting some lawmakers to call for tighter controls.

The House staffer tested positive for COVID-19 nearly two weeks ago. Around the same time, a Senate staffer also tested positive.

The Senate notified all of its members and staff; but House leadership notified only a handful of people who were directly exposed. All follow-up tests have come back negative.

Rep. Lauren Necochea (D-Boise) said she wants more transparency when COVID-19 infections are discovered.

“When someone tests positive at my children’s school, we expect and receive notification. If someone tests positive at your place of work you would expect that information to be shared so that an outbreak can be contained faster,” Necochea said.

Many lawmakers don’t wear masks or physically distance themselves from others at the Idaho Capitol; neither is required. Necochea said greater transparency could change that.

“They may be more likely to use masks and exercise social distancing if they have the knowledge that positive cases are being identified within the building,” she said.

House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) released a statement saying that he has followed contact tracing and testing guidelines set by Central District Health.

“We have done our best to follow appropriate practices when someone in our workplace either tests positive or presents with symptoms while also trying to maintain a reasonable right to privacy,” Bedke said.

In an interview with Boise State Public Radio in December, Bedke said no policy was in place in the event an elected official tests positive for COVID-19.

“There’s just the manners and the policies of polite society,” he said at the time. “If you’re sick and you can get somebody else sick, and that could have long-term health implications, yeah, you step back; and I can’t imagine someone not doing that.”

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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