17 South Dakota House members work the session remotely due to COVID-19 outbreak

Local News

The South Dakota legislature is dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19. At last count, at least 8 members have tested positive along with at least one lobbyist.

This has prompted leadership to loosen the rules when it comes to participating from home. The floor of the House of Representatives in Pierre looked a little different today. There were more empty chairs than usual. 17 house members worked remotely.

They have either tested positive for COVID-19 or they’re in quarantine because they feel they were exposed. All 17 members received permission from house leadership to work from home. Representative Linda Duba of Sioux Falls is one of those.

“Given the fact that we’ve now had 8 members and we’re on the floor and we’re consistently exposed to those who don’t wear masks I chose to get another test, quarantine and then go back on the 22nd,” said Duba.

Although the house chamber at the state capitol building is a large room. There are 70 state representatives who must communicate and interact to do their jobs in a single room. Social distancing isn’t possible, so masks are encouraged. Many in the house today were still not wearing them.

“So there are those that are concerned and there are those that are you know either have had it and consider themselves immune or are they truly believe that it’s not a big deal. and that’s in the house obviously the senate has different rules and we haven’t seen any cases in the senate have we?” said Duba.

It appears the virus was kept at bay for around 20 days of the session, but lawmakers will be in meeting in Pierre until March 11th, so COVID-19 remains a concern for many.

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