State senators and staff are on lockdown in their offices after a member of the Oklahoma Senate staff tests positive for COVID-19. Health officials have been sent from OU Medical Center to test all senators and staff.
This comes one hour after the State Health Department issued a statement to the general public saying testing materials remain in short supply. State health officials told regular citizens that clinicians may recommend testing for other respiratory illnesses including the flu before recommending the COVID-19 test.
The following email was sent to senators and personnel around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday:
Senators and Senate Personnel:
We have been informed that someone in the Senate has tested positive for COVID-19. While risk to a majority of Senators and Senate personnel remains low, out of an abundance of caution, we are sending health professionals to each office to get a swab.
For individuals who may have been in contact with someone who tested positive, you will likely receive a phone call from health officials informing you of this instance and providing you with the necessary information to protect yourself and others.
Immediately, all Senators and Senate personnel are asked to remain in their offices and await a visit from a health professional.
Starting Wednesday March 18th through March 20th, the Senate offices will be closed and employees need to be prepared to work from home. Instructions on administrative leave and telework will be immediately forthcoming. Please watch your email today.
Thank you for cooperation as we work to protect your health and safety.
This follows an unprecedented day on Monday in the legislature when bipartisan caucuses in both chambers voted to change the rules to allow members to suspend the legislative session to the call of the chair. Lawmakers said they wanted to set a good example for the public. However, they did agree to meet today, and this morning, the parking lot is full of cars.
It is unclear how long members of the Senate and staff members will need to remain in their offices or what will happen after the tests are completed.