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First confirmed virus case at Capitol since Feb. 1

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Legislative staffers wait in line for COVID-19 testing in the Capitol rotunda on Jan. 22. Staffers and media members who work in the Roundhouse are required to undergo weekly testing, which is also recommended for legislators. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — Regular COVID-19 testing at the Roundhouse revealed a single positive test result this week — the first confirmed case at the state Capitol in a month.

A top legislative official declined Tuesday to provide information about the individual, including the person’s job description, but said two other people were in quarantine due to contact tracing protocols.

Deep cleaning was also done in the infected individual’s job area, Legislative Council Services Director Raul Burciaga said Tuesday.

The state Capitol had been a largely virus-free zone over the last month. Nearly 1,400 tests done on lawmakers, staffers and media members since Feb. 1 had all comeback negative before this week’s single positive test result, according to Department of Health data released by the Legislative Council Service.

In contrast, five positive test results were recorded at the Roundhouse in January, including three cases — one legislator and two staffers — that were detected during testing conducted after the legislative session’s Jan. 19 opening day.

Two State Police officers also tested positive at the Roundhouse before the session began and were immediately quarantined.

This year’s 60-day legislative session is being conducted largely remotely due to the pandemic, with members of the public and lobbyists barred from the state Capitol in an attempt to avoid a mass outbreak.

Legislative staffers and media members allowed in the Roundhouse are required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, while lawmakers have been requested — but not required — to undergo similar nasal swab testing.

New Mexico’s overall COVID-19 outlook has improved in recent weeks, with test positivity rates declining around the state and more than 600,000 vaccine doses administered to roughly 386,000 state residents as of Tuesday, according to DOH data.

But legislative officials said they do not plan to halt the Roundhouse testing or ease testing requirements for most people working in the building.

“We are going to continue testing throughout the session,” Burciaga told the Journal, adding an additional day or two of testing may be added after the session’s March 20 adjournment date for people who are still working in the Capitol or want to be tested one more time.


Albuquerque Journal seeks stories of our community's pandemic loss

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