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Oklahoma Senate
A staff member of the Oklahoma State Senate has tested positive for COVID-19. (Tres Savage)

A staff member of the Oklahoma Senate has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email distributed today and others with knowledge of the situation. Senators and Senate personnel have been asked to remain in their offices “and await a visit from a health professional.”

The individual has not been in the building since Friday, according to a state senator speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The following email was distributed in the Oklahoma Senate at 11:25 a.m. while the body was in recess:

Senators and Senate Personnel:

We have been informed that someone in the Senate has tested positive for COVID-19. While risk to a majority of Senators and Senate personnel remains low, out of an abundance of caution, we are sending health professionals to each office to get a swab.

For any individuals who may have been in contact with someone who tested positive, you will likely receive a phone call from health officials informing you of this instance and providing you with the necessary information to protect yourself and others.

Immediately, all Senators and Senate personnel are asked to remain in their offices and await a visit from a health professional.

Starting Wednesday, March 18th through Friday, March 20th, the Senate offices will be closed and employees need to be prepared to work from home. Instructions on administrative leave and telework will be immediately forthcoming. Please watch your email today.

Thank you for your cooperation as we work to protect your health and safety.

“We are waiting for OU Medicine,” said a senator on the condition of anonymity. “I think we are going to be screened and perhaps tested. We are using an abundance of caution because we don’t want it to spread to all corners of the state.”

The senator said the individual is a member of Oklahoma Senate staff who has not been in the building since Friday.

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC) released a statement just before 2:30 p.m.

“While the risk to a majority of Senate personnel and senators remains low, per the recommendation and under the guidance of health officials, we are taking appropriate measures,” Treat said. “In addition, beginning Wednesday, March 18, and through Friday, March 20, Senate offices will be closed and employees will work remotely during that time. The Senate will continue to operate and serve the citizens of the state of Oklahoma. We will continue working with other state officials, health care professionals, and agencies as state government addresses this public health crisis.”

Oklahoma cases up to 17

This morning, the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced that seven new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state, bringing the total to 17.

Last week, two members of the New York State Assembly tested positive for COVID-19.

Monday, legislative leaders announced that the Oklahoma State Capitol would be closed to everyone other than lawmakers, staff, media and other associated state employees.

(Update: This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, to include comment from Treat.)

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William W. Savage III (Tres) holds a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. He covered two sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature for eCapitol.net before working in health care for six years. He is a nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.