Meetings at the Alaska State Capitol, seen here in this December 19, 2020 file photo, were canceled Thursday after a member of the House of Representatives tested positive for COVID-19. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)

House member tests positive for COVID-19

Meetings canceled as lawmakers and staff are tested

Most meetings of the Alaska House of Representatives were canceled Thursday after a member of the body tested positive for COVID-19.

Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok, tested positive Wednesday evening and began quarantining at his Juneau residence, Alaska House Republicans announced.

Cronk is experiencing mild symptoms, House Republicans said in a news release, and all members of his staff have received negative tests as of Thursday morning.

“Coming to Juneau, we all knew the risk,” Cronk said in the release. “But we have a job to do. I will be working from home and look forward to rejoining my colleagues as soon as my doctor clears me.”

Contract tracers are identifying close contacts, according to House Republicans, and the company contracted with the Legislature for screening, Beacon, is implementing established protocols.

Cronk and Reps. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, and Kevin McCabe, R-Big Lake, attended the 1th Annual Alaska Outdoor Council Banquet in Palmer over the weekend, according to a Facebook post from the Alaska House Republicans. All three representatives are pictured maskless.

The Associated Press reported a House Republicans spokesperson said Tilton and McCabe had tested negative for COVID-19.

In an email to lawmakers, House Speaker Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, asked lawmakers not to leave Juneau until further notice as the legislative work would take place on weekends which it typically does not. Lawmakers frequently return to their home districts on weekends.

The House took roughly a month before it could organize and once it did Stutes said lawmakers would be working to make up for lost time.

A meeting of the House Health and Social Services Committee would still take place Thursday afternoon, according to House Majority spokesperson, Austin Baird, as arrangements were made to hold the meeting telephonically.

[Dunleavy tests positive for COVID-19]

“Our primary function is to faithfully carry out our duties under the constitution,” Stutes said. “In order to ensure the fulfillment of our obligations, the House will be working weekends until our business, the people’s business, is concluded. Our constituents deserve nothing less.”

Legislative Affairs Agency Director Jessica Geary said in an email there were no changes Thursday in the rules for entering the Capitol.

Senate Majority spokesperson Daniel McDonald said senators will hold committee meetings Thursday and meet for their scheduled floor session on Friday. The Senate Finance Committee meeting was canceled by its chair Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, who said in a statement the situation in the House coupled with the absence of co-chair Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, merited the cancellation.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday and was showing mild symptoms. The governor’s office said in a release the Dunleavy was working from his home in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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