Lobbyist who met with NC lawmakers tests positive for coronavirus

Posted July 1, 2020 3:54 p.m. EDT
Updated July 1, 2020 4:38 p.m. EDT

— State lawmakers had more questions than answers Wednesday after learning that an unidentified lobbyist tested positive for coronavirus after meeting with lawmakers.

No official notification has yet gone out from leaders' offices or from Legislative Services, but several House lawmakers were notified by the lobbyist about the positive test.

House Minority Leader Darren Jackson said at least one of those lawmakers is in his caucus. Jackson, D-Wake, said that lawmaker and the lobbyist met in the lawmaker's office.

House Speaker Tim Moore told The News & Observer, which first reported the story, that no lawmakers who met with the lobbyist have tested positive so far.

Wake County senators hadn't heard anything about it Wednesday before being asked about it by reporters.

"Oh, great," responded Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake. "Certainly, there’s been no internal communications from the leadership. I just hope that that lobbyist was wearing a mask during the time he or she was in the building."

"If that was the case, I would hope everyone would be notified," said Sen. Wiley Nickel, D-Wake. "Whether you’re a reporter, legislator or staff, we’re all affected."

Most members of House and Senate leadership didn't wear masks regularly during the short session that largely wrapped up last Friday. Most lobbyists didn't wear them, either.

The legislature's small committee rooms, elevators, halls and restrooms make maintaining social distancing difficult in the 50-year-old building.

Chaudhuri said Senate Democrats had pushed Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger for more preventive measures, including masks and temperature checks, but were only partially successful.

"The lack of individuals wearing masks," Chaudhuri said, "raises a whole host of issues."

The lobbyist is at least the second person tied to the legislature to test positive for the virus. A cafeteria worker at the Legislative Building tested positive in early April.

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