Democratic Ohio House Members Are Furious About Handling Of COVID-19 Issues In The Statehouse

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Republican House Speaker Larry Householder’s office isn’t saying how many House employees are on administrative leave after a legislative aide tested positive for COVID-19.

And some Democratic members are furious, saying they’ve been kept in the dark.

Ohio House Rep. Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) said she only knows about the COVID-19 exposure because one of her staffers was asked to stay home — but later found out he was mistaken for someone else. Miranda blames Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) for not being forthright about coronavirus exposures.

“This is just a ticking time bomb waiting to blow up and we are going to have an absolute outbreak on our hands," she said.

Sign at entrance to the Ohio Statehouse [Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau]

Miranda said she and other Democrats have no idea how contact tracing is being conducted when someone in the Ohio House tests positive for the virus. And she blasted Householder for "an absolute lack of leadership" when it comes to dealing with issues involving the pandemic in the Ohio House.

Democrats are looking into legal options, Miranda said.

In recent weeks, Democrats, who wear masks in legislative sessions, have been criticizing some Republican lawmakers because most of them have not been wearing masks. Some Republicans have publicly lambasted Gov. Mike DeWine for measures he has taken to try to prevent the virus from spreading.

For his part, Householder has not responded to interview request. But the Speaker has tweeted that he told the Democrats’ Chief of Staff about the situation.

Ohio House Majority Press Secretary Taylor Jach said in a written statement that staff who were within six feet of the individual for more than 15 minutes were sent home. The statement goes on to say a deep cleaning of the impacted employees’ work spaces and common areas is underway and staff is following recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Staff who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or had close contact with someone who has have been given the option of either taking paid leave or working from home, according to Jach's statement.

Earlier this week, state Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) announced this week she is battling the virus. Howse said she wanted the public to know in the hopse that people could get tested if they had been exposed to her and take the virus itself more seriously.

And at Thursday's coronavirus briefing, DeWine confirmed a member of his staff has also tested positive for the virus and is working from home.

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

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