Session Proceeds As More Legislators Test COVID Positive

Feb 11, 2021

A handful of legislators have tested positive for COVID-19. At least three are publicly saying they’ve caught the coronavirus. 

State lawmakers say the protocols currently in place will help them finish out the session. For four weeks the coronavirus was at bay. Then, last Sunday Republican Representative Aaron Aylward got a positive diagnosis. 

Since then, two others have announced they tested positive and one other, Republican Representative Tom Pishcke, is participating remotely. Kent Peterson is the majority leader in the house. He says the virus is going to spread. 

“That’s what this virus has done it has done across the country and across the state. We have processes in state. Our business has not stopped happening,” Peterson says. “Even with what we’ve been dealing with. We’ve had people testifying remotely throughout the session. We’ve had legislators work remotely this week. We still took the votes, we still had the hearings.” 

Some groups have come to the capitol to watch lawmaker’s debate. Representative Lynn Schneider: 

“…. Senior govt class from james valley christian highschool in Huron SD. 

In the gallery was the grandson of the late-Representative Bob Glanzer, one of the first South Dakotans to die from COVID 19. 

House Democrats are frustrated. 

Jaime Smith is the leader of house Democrats. He says watching state government in person is a great tradition in the state capitol, but he says this year visitors should consider putting that on pause. Smith says they should at least wear a mask. 

“I know they’re wearing them when they visit the Senate,” Smith says. “But as soon as they cross over into the House, entire groups, no mask. That’s disrespectful, I believe, to us, but also it puts them at risk. Because they go back to their communiti9es. They go back to their families. We know it’s here, folks, it’s not a secret.” 

That caucus is handing a letter to Speaker of the House demanding that the house implement a similar mask requirement for the public that’s in place for the Senate.