Alaska House dealing with COVID-19 outbreak

A white woman with white hair wearing a mask walks in a ood panelled room
State Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, leaves the House floor after being sworn in during the first day of the 32nd Legislative Session on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 in Juneau. (Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

Alaska House Speaker Louise Stutes said masks will be required in the House chambers until further notice, citing COVID-19 cases.

Stutes, in a statement, said the House is dealing with an “active outbreak of COVID-19, with several members testing positive over the last few days.”

The Anchorage Daily News reported 15 active COVID-19 cases among people working at the Capitol, according to an email circulated Monday evening by Stutes’s office.

On Monday morning, Stutes recessed the floor session after saying there were members who had “chosen not to comply” with the masking policy.

“Let me be clear — I am as tired of wearing masks as anyone,” she said in her statement. “But while we are dealing with this outbreak in the Capitol, we have an obligation to look after one another’s wellbeing, especially those of us who are immunocompromised, while still upholding our responsibility to Alaskans to pass the budget in a timely manner.”

“I hope that we can set aside our personal feelings on this issue tomorrow and come together for the Alaskans who want us to get our work done,” she said.

Monday marked day 70 of the legislative session. The House is facing debate on a state operating budget. Whatever passes the House will still need to go to the Senate.

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