Two NYS lawmakers test positive for COVID; Assembly on alert for more cases

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At least two members of New York State’s Assembly have tested positive for COVID, the head of the legislative body said Friday, raising concerns that a recent special session may end up becoming a spreader event.

Assembly members Charles Fall and Inez Dickens, both of whom have been vaccinated, tested positive for the virus, according to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“We are now in the process of reaching out to other members and staff that they may have been in contact with on Wednesday during session in Albany,” Heastie (D-Bronx) said in a written statement. “Those individuals are being encouraged to quarantine until they can get a COVID test.”

Both Fall and Dickens, who are Democrats, are now quarantining as well, Heastie added.

Gov. Hochul convened Wednesday’s legislative session to extend the state’s moratorium on evictions after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked President Biden’s plan to stave them off. The measure passed and extended the state moratorium to January, offering continued relief to tenants who’ve struggled to pay rent due to COVID and who fear that, without a moratorium, they could become homeless.

Heastie’s spokesman Michael Whyland said no one else in the Assembly has tested positive for coronavirus recently, noting that members and staffers have been encouraged to get tested. One Assembly member said two other lawmakers have not been feeling well since Wednesday’s sessions and feared more colleagues would be diagnosed positive.

“In less than 48 hours, two are positive and two are not feeling well and showing symptoms,” the lawmaker said. “I hope I’m wrong, but I’m starting to see a wind blowing, so to speak.”

Last week, state Sen. Anthony Palumbo also tested positive for COVID, but did not attend Wednesday’s special session, according to Katy Delgado, a Senate Republican spokeswoman. No other Senate Republicans have tested positive for COVID in recent days, she said.

Neither have any Senate Democrats, according to their spokesman Mike Murphy.

Starting Sept. 6, members of that body must show proof of vaccination or proof of a recent COVID test to meet in the Capitol building, he said.