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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

At Least 3 Ohio Lawmakers Test Positive For COVID-19 During Lame Duck Session

The Ohio House in session last month, after members voted not to require masks on the floor.  [Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau]
The House in session last month, after they voted not to require members to wear masks on the floor.

At least three state lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus, as the legislature has been rushing to get bills passed before the two-year session ends in a few weeks.

Rep. Rick Carfagna (R-Genoa Township) announced his positive result last week. Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) has confirmed he has it, too. Both said they have symptoms and are recovering at home.

Another unnamed Republican has also tested positive.

All three were at the Statehouse last week for committee hearings and session. It's unclear where the lawmakers may have contracted the virus.

Minority Leader Emilia Sykes has said she's concerned about her colleagues, staff and journalists, and is suggesting this week's legislative activity be canceled.

“The Republican Majority should cancel session this week and follow the lead of Arizona, another Republican-led legislature,” Sykes said in a Monday night statement. “I am incredibly concerned for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as well as our staff, journalists and citizens who frequent the Statehouse.”

But a spokesperson for Republican Speaker Bob Cupp said no changes to the schedule are planned.

Masks are required in the Statehouse, but as the legislative branch, the House and Senate make their own rules. Last month, House Democrats proposed a motion to require members to wear masks. It failed along party lines. But many members do wear masks in committee meetings and on the floor.

Other state lawmakers who have contracted COVID-19 include   Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and Rep. Gary Scherer (R-Circleville), Sen. Tina Maharath (D-Columbus), Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House) and Sen. Frank Hoagland (R-Mingo Junction).

Ohio's first COVID-19 death had a connection to the state legislature: Mark Wagoner Sr ., who died in March, was the father of Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Mark Wagoner, a former state senator.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.