The Missouri Senate will postpone a special session until after Thanksgiving because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, announced the postponement in a tweet Monday and said, “Due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases among members and staff, the Missouri Senate will postpone action related to the special session until after the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Rowden also said, “This decision was not made lightly and, although disruptive, is in the best interest of protecting members, staff and the public.”
The special session was called by Parson to address funding related to COVID-19 and also included liability protections for businesses operating during a state of emergency.
The spread of the virus within the Senate comes after a GOP retreat last week in Branson, where photos posted by Gov. Mike Parson show a group of lawmakers, most not wearing masks, sitting around conference tables as he spoke.
The photos also showed that Senate members were not socially distancing. Kelli Jones, spokesperson for the governor’s office, told the Missourian that Parson was maintaining social distancing at the event and was wearing a mask during the meeting, taking it off only to speak.
Jones did not address questions about the other lawmakers who were not wearing masks and what message that sends to the public.
Earlier Monday, the governor tweeted, “Missourians — we have to take responsibility — social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands and avoid large crowds or gatherings.”
House lawmakers also canceled the traditional new-member bus tour of the state.
“Out of an abundance of caution and in an effort to protect the health and well-being of members, staff and the general public, we have decided to postpone the two-week statewide bus tour for newly elected House members,” said incoming House Speaker Rep. Rob Vescovo in a statement.
The tour plans had come under some criticism because there were plans for two buses, one that required masks be worn, one that did not. It may be held next summer but a decision won’t be made “until the health and well-being of tour participants and the general public can be adequately protected.”