As COVID-19 infection rates rise, Speaker Filler-Corn calls for additional common sense measures to stem the spread of COVID-19 during the 2022 House Session
Richmond, VA – With the spread of the newly identified Omicron variant, COVID-19 infections continue to dramatically rise in Virginia and nationally. With the legislature returning to Session shortly and infection rates expected to peak at the start of Session, Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn calls for the following additional common sense mitigation measures to keep legislators and staff healthy and on the job doing the work of the people of Virginia:
1. Mandatory full vaccination, including booster shots, for all members of the House and staff. For Members and staff who refuse vaccination or are unable, a mask mandate will be implemented on the House floor and other facilities under House jurisdiction along with weekly testing.
2. Mandatory reporting of potential COVID-19 related symptoms followed by appropriate testing as specified by Center of Disease Control Guidelines. Those testing positive will then be subjected to CDC recommended protocol for quarantining.
3. A Virtual option for committee and floor votes for Members who have been exposed or have tested positive for COVID-19. This option will ensure that sick Members do not expose their colleagues, staff, press, or other individuals present and that Virginians have representation even if their Member is affected by COVID-19.
4. Providing the option for the Speaker to convene the House virtually, if needed. The number one priority is a safe return to in-person session, but it is important to have a contingency plan in place. We owe it to Virginians to complete this legislative session without delay.
Speaker Filler-Corn issued the following statement upon calling for these measures:
“As COVID-19 infections rise across Virginia, it is vital the House put in place measures to ensure that it can complete the critical work deserved by Virginians in the upcoming Session. As we work to turn the corner on this pandemic and keep Virginia open and healthy, the protocols I have called for today, in addition to those already put in place, will help keep the House in Session on behalf of the people of Virginia as well as protect Members and staff, their families, and the communities they return to. This pandemic is still affecting Virginians across the Commonwealth and they deserve and need a legislature that is able to stay on the job and address the challenges they face. These measures will help make that possible.”
MEASURES AND PROTOCOLS ALREADY ENACTED BY SPEAKER FILLER-CORN:
1. Encourage vaccinations, including boosters for all employees of House Clerks Office. All employees of the House Clerk’s Office are required to show proof of vaccination, or undergo weekly testing and disclose test results to Human Resources personnel.
2. Wear masks and practice physical distancing. Everyone entering the two buildings is encouraged to wear masks (via signs on the entrance doors), regardless of vaccination status, given crowded indoor spaces and the inability to distance.
3. Staff of the House Clerk’s Office are required to wear masks and to maintain physical distances of six feet whenever possible.
4. Committee rooms are set up to allow for six feet physical distances. No standing is allowed in committee rooms (per signs on committee room doors).
5. The smaller subcommittee rooms are not in use.
6. Elevators are restricted to a specific number of people to allow for social distancing.
7. Receptionist desks have hard-installed heavy plastic “sneeze guard” shields to help prevent receptionists from having high exposure to other staff and members of the public.
8. Ensure proper ventilation inside meeting spaces and offices. The smaller subcommittee rooms are currently closed, and meetings are being held in the larger committee rooms, specifically the rooms that allow for live-streaming.
9. Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. Temperature check devices are available for staff and the public in both buildings. Staff, and specifically supervisors, are responsible for monitoring their own health and staying home when they are sick. Supervisors counsel staff who have symptoms of COVID-19, and explain testing and isolation requirements, based on current VDH and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance. Supervisors keep employees informed of any COVID-19 cases and the protocols to follow if an employee has been in contact with someone with COVID-19.
10. Employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 are required to stay home for the VDH recommended time period. Any employee who is sick is strongly encouraged to work from home or take sick leave.