Lawmakers plan on going back to work for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic

Published: May. 15, 2020 at 1:54 PM AKDT
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The Alaska Legislature is planning to reconvene for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began with the senate going back to work at 2 p.m. on Monday, May 18.

Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, told reporters Friday afternoon that lawmakers will mostly focus on the $1.5 billion in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.

Giessel said lawmakers are being encouraged to either bring no staff members or only essential staff when they return to Juneau next week.

She also said lawmakers will be following guidelines set by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink and Dr. Joe McLaughlin, a state epidemiologist, which also includes testing for illnesses.

She said instead of a nasal swab there will be temperature screenings, and lawmakers will be asked questions that most other companies ask of their own employees.

"Temperature screen is extremely non-invasive," Giessel said, "I don't foresee people refusing that simple temperature test."

Lawmakers will be given a sticker to be worn in the Capitol after the screening has happened. Additionally, lawmakers must wear a mask.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon released a statement on the decision saying “We are doing our very best to approve badly needed federal funds to help Alaskans weather the economic storm caused by COVID-19. We are working side-by-side in the Legislature and with the governor to get this done before the regular session ends at midnight next Wednesday.”

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