February 21, 2023

Session goes on amid COVID-19 concerns

State Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, appeared remotely during the Monday Senate floor session after he tested positive for COVID-19 over Presidents’ Day weekend.

The Roundhouse was different in some respects on Monday: more people were masking and social distancing as they were able.

The Legislative Health Office is located near the Senate Gallery on the second floor in room 214 where tests were being given to those who asked for one or boxes with tests were being given for offices that wanted them.

“In light of recent COVID cases in the Roundhouse, we have reached unanimous consent to suspend a section of House Rules to allow for members who test positive for COVID to participate virtually in both committee hearings and floor sessions until their isolation period is complete,” NM House Democrats spokeswoman Camille Ward said via email Monday. “We are also encouraging masking, social distancing and testing. Rapid tests are available in the paramedic’s office.”

The Senate had already planned for the possibility for COVID-19 to affect the legislative session.

“The senate adopted rules on opening day allowing for remote participation on the floor and in committees for those testing positive for COVID while they are in isolation (senate rule 7-3-1). We, too, are encouraging masking, social distancing and frequent testing,” Senate Majority Office spokesman Chris Nordstrum said via email Monday.

Currently, the Roundhouse is not keeping track of how many people test positive or negative for COVID-19 during the session.

“We’re not tracking the COVID numbers the same way we were last year, so we just don’t have that data. Because we’re not tracking it. We just don’t have it,” Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs with the Legislative Council Amy Chavez-Romero said via phone on Tuesday.