At least seven Florida lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 since early July, and legislators are returning to the Capitol on Tuesday as the pandemic continues.
The Florida Legislature will be convening for an organizational session following the November election, to swear in new lawmakers and set the tone for the upcoming legislative session in March.
The meeting in Tallahassee comes at a time when Florida is closing in on 900,000 COVID-19 infections — the third highest number in the nation — and lawmakers will be arriving from all over the state.
Senator-elect Ray Rodrigues, a Republican who will represent part of Lee County in the Senate, is the most recent lawmaker to have tested positive for COVID-19 in early November, according to Florida Politics. Unlike most of the other lawmakers who tested positive, Rodrigues has not yet shown symptoms.
Rep. Geraldine Thompson, a House Democrat representing part of Orange County, announced she too has tested positive for COVID-19 in early November.
Tuesday, Florida lawmakers will assemble in the Florida Capitol to swear in the new members of the Florida legislative body. Some of the lawmakers who will be at the organizational session have already experienced COVID-19 up close.
Senator-elect Shevrin Jones, a Democrat who will represent parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties in the Senate, was the first lawmaker to announce his COVID-19 positivity in July. Jones documented his symptoms on his Twitter feed and used the platform to encourage Gov. Ron DeSantis to establish a mask mandate for Florida.
Following Jones were other Florida lawmakers who tested postitive: Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican who represents part of Brevard County, and Rep. Chris Latvala, a Republican who represents part of Pinellas County. Both Latvala and Fine were both up for reelection this term.
Sen. Rob Bradley also tested positive for COVID-19 towards the end of July, but he has termed out of his position in the Senate and did not run for reelection this year. His wife, Republican Jennifer Bradley, won the North Florida Senate seat.
Republican Sen. Ben Albritton tested positive in August. He represents the counties of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee, and parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk counties.
How the next phase of the 2021 legislative session in Florida will work is not entirely clear yet, given the pandemic.
Elsewhere, the Virginia House plans to meet virtually for its 2021 session “due to ongoing health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the Virginia Mercury.
The Mercury is an affiliate of the nonprofit States Newsroom, which includes the Florida Phoenix.