Suspected positive Covid-19 case reported by person attending Monday’s legislative meeting

Some members of the House are keeping to social distancing by sitting in Senate seats instead of their desks on Monday, Nov. 22 during a special session of the legislature at the Statehouse in Montpelier. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

A person believed to be positive about Covid-19 was at the Statehouse during Monday’s special legislative session, according to an email sent to lawmakers and legislative staff by the Capitol Police on Wednesday afternoon.

“We do not consider this circumstance to be a high risk for transmission, due to the transient nature of Monday’s activities and the limited time frame for exposure,” the email reads, which was shared with VTDigger.

The person was not symptomatic and did not know they might have been infected when they showed up to the statehouse Monday, according to the Capitol Police email.

Vaccinated people do not need to be quarantined after exposure to Covid-19 unless they develop symptoms, according to guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Everyone who entered the Statehouse on Monday was required to wear a mask.

The Capitol Police email recommended that unvaccinated individuals be tested twice — as soon as two days after exposure and then again seven days after exposure.

the CDC defines a case as “probable” when there is a positive antigen test. Antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests.

Capitol Police Chief Matthew Romei said he could not say why this case was labeled “presumptive”.

Rep. Mari Cordes, D-Lincoln, on Wednesday tweeted a screenshot of a Covid-19 exposure text warning.

Governor Phil Scott had convened the one-day special legislative session to consider whether municipalities should be allowed to impose their own mask mandates as a way to curb the spread of Covid-19, she said. While the Senate could meet remotely, a House quorum was required to conduct business.

“The transfer from the community is so high right now. This was a very risky move on the part of the Governor, and so any illness that comes into the Statehouse today will be on Governor Scott’s behalf,” Cordes said in an interview. “Therefore, and because of his profound lack of leadership in this Delta wave, I am calling on him to resign.”

“We will not dignify the Representative’s superficial comments with a response,” Governor spokesman Jason Maulucci wrote in an email to VTDigger Wednesday afternoon.

[Looking for data on breakthrough cases? See our reporting on the latest available statistics.]

Romei said this was the first mass exposure notice his department had to send, but the language was written and had been on standby for a while, just in case.

“We check the notifications, so when legislative leadership calls out and says, ‘Hey, we have a presumptive positive and this is the message we need to go out’, many of those messages that we pre-created for some time, actually waiting for this happens,” said Romei.

Conor Kennedy, chief of staff to House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, said he knew who tested positive but declined to share their names, citing respect for the person’s privacy.

“We’ve had discussions at a very high level, but out of respect for personal health information and the process in general, we’re following the guidelines of the health department and the CDC, just to let everyone know,” Kennedy said.

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