Kentucky Legislative Staffer Diagnosed With Coronavirus, Lawmakers Return Wednesday

Mar 31, 2020

Credit Alix Mattingly

A staffer for the Kentucky legislature has tested positive for coronavirus. The legislature has been meeting intermittently during the coronavirus pandemic and is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday to pass a final version of the state budget and other bills.

The staffer works for the Legislative Research Commission, the administrative arm of the legislature tasked with drafting bills, crunching numbers and assisting lawmakers. The agency is governed by a 16-member board made up of leaders from the Republican-majority legislature.

Rob Weber, public information officer for the LRC, said that the staffer is recovering and doing well, “given the circumstances.”

“We were informed on March 30 that an LRC staff member tested positive earlier in the day for COVID-19. We shared the news with all LRC staff members the same day,” Weber wrote in an email.

Weber said that the staffer has been teleworking since March 16 and that there is a low risk that other employees were exposed to the virus by the employee.

LRC co-workers who had prior contact with the employee have been informed and will follow quarantine protocols, Weber said.

LRC Director Jay Hartz informed employees about the confirmed case in a March 30 email, saying the “news is not completely unexpected given the spread of the novel coronavirus in Kentucky.”

“It is nonetheless disconcerting news for the staff member, their family, and the greater LRC community,” Hartz wrote.

Hartz said that no decisions have been made about a change to staffing policies or the legislature’s schedule.

Lawmakers have been meeting sporadically during the coronavirus pandemic as they try to finalize a two-year state budget and pass a variety of other bills.

Leaders of the legislature are scheduled to meet for a budget conference committee at 2 p.m. Tuesday. There are six legislative committees planning to meet Wednesday morning and all 138 members of the General Assembly are scheduled to reconvene at noon.

Meanwhile the Capitol has been closed off from the general public, with only lawmakers, essential staff and reporters permitted to enter. Legislative meetings have continued to be broadcast online.