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On day three of session, two Idaho lawmakers disclose positive COVID results

Idaho State Capitol - 2021
Otto Kitsinger
The Idaho State Capitol building can be seen past the old Ada County Courthouse in Boise on March 20, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Democratic legislators regularly test and were not symptomatic, spokesperson says

Two Democratic lawmakers in the Idaho Legislature have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an emailed statement from the Idaho House and Senate Democrats.

Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, and Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, learned they had tested positive on Wednesday and left the Idaho Capitol, according to the statement. Both wore masks during the past three days since the session began.

“Individuals who were in close contact have been notified and will get tested,” the statement said.

Olivia Heersink, communications director for the Idaho House and Senate Democrats, told the Idaho Capital Sun the Democratic legislators are regularly tested through Boise State University. Neither were experiencing symptoms, and both lawmakers were fully vaccinated and received booster shots, Heersink said.

The disclosure comes three days after members of the Idaho House and Senate, the state’s constitutional officers and members of the Idaho Supreme Court crowded into the House chambers to listen to Gov. Brad Little’s State of the State address. A large majority did not wear masks.

The Idaho Legislature does not require any lawmaker to be tested for COVID, report symptoms or a positive test, or to report contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. There are also no requirements for legislators or staff to wear face coverings in the Statehouse building.

In March 2021, the Idaho Legislature recessed for more than two weeks after several legislators and employees tested positive for the coronavirus. At least 20 people were infected between January and March.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state.