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GOP Missouri lawmakers test positive for virus, delay work

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Republican leaders in the Missouri Senate postponed work on coronavirus aid funding Monday after numerous senators and staffers tested positive for COVID-19.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz and Republican Majority Leader Caleb Rowden said they were delaying work until after Thanksgiving because it “is in the best interest of protecting members, staff and the public.”

They said there had been a number of cases but didn’t specify which lawmakers had been sickened and how many staffers were ill.

A Senate Republican spokesman said he was aware of only one senator and one staffer who had tested positive.

The delay comes after Senate Republicans met last week with Gov. Mike Parson, who is also a Republican. Photos posted by Parson on Facebook show few wore masks.

At the time, Schatz said that although senators often wore masks in public, it was “ultimately up to each individual to make that decision.”

Parson and his wife tested positive for the coronavirus in September. His wife said she had only minor symptoms, and the governor said he was asymptomatic.

Parson called lawmakers back to work for a special session to give his administration the authority to spend another roughly $1.1 billion in federal aid to help the state’s response to the coronavirus. He later also asked them to pass a law to prevent hospitals, schools, churches, nonprofits, manufacturers and other businesses from being sued for misconduct related to how they’ve handled the coronavirus.

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