CHARLESTON — House leaders are taking time to publicly recognize and thank all the staff members of the House of Delegates, as well as local health leaders who helped the body get through the regular, 60-day session with just one isolated case of COVID.
“We knew the risk of bringing together this many individuals to complete the work of the people, but we also knew it needed to be done and it could be done with the proper precautions,” said House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay. “We were told that we must create a bubble for all members of the Legislature and all staff, a total of more than 200 people, two weeks before the session started, which would have been completely unreasonable and untenable.
“Our team found a better way to get the job done, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Many other states have seen legislative sessions cut short due to COVID outbreaks, but West Virginia’s Legislature now can serve as an example of how to work through a regular session reasonably and responsibly. When one positive case was reported, the appropriate protocols were carried out and any potential spread was contained.
The House senior leadership team, including Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, who is a nurse, spent a great deal of time before the session started creating guidelines for gatherings of people as well as sanitizing protocols. Summers also credited and thanked Kanawha County Health Department’s Health Officer Sherri Young for allocating early vaccine doses for Delegates and staff members who wanted them.
“Our Capitol Services crews, especially the House Supplies and Custodial Crew, led by Eddie Belcher, meticulously added COVID precautions to their usual cleaning and maintenance schedules, and our committee staff members all adjusted swiftly to new rooms, new protocols and new rules,” Summers said. “We couldn’t have gotten through this session as smoothly as possible without everyone working together to keep us all safe.”