COVID-19 testing mandated for some Alaska capitol staff

It’s the first time testing has been mandated in about a year
COVID-19 testing mandated for some Alaska capitol staff
Published: Feb. 25, 2023 at 10:34 AM AKST
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Lawmakers in Juneau are trying to prevent a possible COVID-19 and influenza outbreak at the state Capitol.

The leaders of Alaska’s Senate Finance Committee are going to require all senators and staff of that committee to get weekly COVID-19 tests, starting Monday.

“There has been a marked increase of COVID in the building,” said Sen. Lyman Hoffman of Bethel.

It’s the first time there’s been a requirement for testing there in about a year.

“To see if we can at least have a little higher standard in this building because of the importance of this committee to the process,” Hoffman said.

State statistics aren’t showing a current swell in COVID-19 infections in their weekly numbers.

But the capitol is bracing for a possible rise in infections.

“COVID started appearing well over a week or so ago more sporadically and last week it was getting a little more prominent. So we started taking some defensive measures, asking people to take some tests,” said Sen. Bert Stedman of Sitka.

There have been lawmakers who have been recently out sick, Stedman said, either because of COVID-19 or the flu.

Multiple staff at the capitol say the legislature isn’t tracking those who have recently gotten sick.

Monday will be the first time testing has been required at the capitol since early last year.

“The important thing is the legislature keeps functioning and we don’t have to shut down or, in that matter, slow down Senate Finance,” Stedman said.

An exposure event could not be confirmed at the capitol.

Of the hundreds of people in and out of the building every day, the number of people required to get testing will be limited to staff of the Senate Finance Committee.

That’s about 50 people.