Calif. Senate GOPers booted from Capitol over coronavirus outbreak

Sen. Brian Jones’ (R–Santee) diagnosis forced all Republicans but Sen. Jim Nielsen (R–Tehama) to cast votes remotely Thursday.

All but one Republican member of California’s State Senate were barred from entering the state Capitol on Thursday following the discovery that a colleague, State Sen. Brian Jones (R–Santee) tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday.

The move forced all but Sen. Jim Nielsen (R–Tehama) to cast votes remotely.


Nielsen, speaking to the Associated Press, called on Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D–San Diego) to cancel legislative sessions until the GOP’s remaining members could be tested.

“What’s more important? The health or a handful of bills at the end of session,” Nielsen said.

In a statement issued Thursday, Sen. Andreas Borgeas (R–Fresno) echoed Nielsen’s sentiments, noting that Jones – who attended a caucus lunch on Wednesday – was also on the floor of the Senate with Democrats.

“I took a test on Tuesday morning and received the negative result yesterday,” he said. “I would encourage all Senators who have not yet been tested to get one because an incomplete picture of potential exposure remains. Both Democrats and Republicans have potentially been exposed to the virus.

The Legislature has suffered two coronavirus-related delays: in mid-March, upon the initial outbreak of the disease in California, and later in July when seven Capitol personnel, including two members of the State Assembly: Autumn Burke (D–Marina Del Rey) and Tom Lackey (R–Palmdale).

Lackey was hospitalized during his bout with the disease.

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