Sacramento, July 7 (IANS) A COVID-19 outbreak in the California Legislature has indefinitely delayed a session of the state Assembly, highlighting the rapid spread of the virus in a state that has imposed new restrictions on bars and restaurants following a surge in the number of infections and hospitalizations, a media report said.
On Monday, Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office confirmed five people who work in the state Assembly have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Sacramento-based KCRA-TV said in the report.
That includes Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, a Democrat, who is believed to have been infected while on the Assembly floor last month when lawmakers returned to the state Capitol in Sacramento to approve a $202.1 billion budget.
The Assembly was scheduled to return to work on July 13.
“The Assembly will remain in recess until further notice,” Rendon said.
“We have taken this decision, as we did in March, to protect members, staff and the public from exposure, and it comes in light of recent news of positive coronavirus tests in the Capitol.”
Many state legislatures shut down earlier this year as the pandemic took hold of the US, including California, where lawmakers missed nearly two months of work in its first unscheduled recess in 158 years.
But many legislatures eventually returned to work with restrictions in place to limit the spread of the virus.
In California, those restrictions included mandatory masks for lawmakers on the floor, plus physical distancing in the chamber.
Statewide, coronavirus hospitalizations have increased 56 per cent in the past two weeks while the number of confirmed cases has jumped 53 per cent, the KCRA-TV report said.
In Los Angeles County, where one quarter of the state’s population lives, people between the ages of 18 and 40 now account for 25 per cent of all coronavirus hospitalizations – up from about 10 per cent in April.
California moved last week to halt its reopening plans in the face of a rise in new coronavirus cases.
Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday added five counties to the list of those instructed to close bars and indoor operations for certain businesses, bringing the total number to 23.