Colorado House Democrats say a GOP staffer who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month should not return to the Capitol until she tests negative, but the legislative aide argues she’s in the clear.
The staffer, Ellen Moroney, was spotted on the floor of the House on the first day of the legislature’s special session on COVID-19 relief. At least at one point, Moroney could be seen wearing her mask incorrectly with her nose exposed.
Incoming House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, said Moroney tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 17 — not Nov. 24, the day she posted on Facebook, “Well it’s my birthday! I have good news and bad news. The bad news: I have covid. Happy birthday to me, right?”
“That aide sought the advice of their physician and was given permission to return to work in person on the 24th of this month,” McKean wrote in a statement.
You know that photo of Rep. Larry Liston that’s been going around? (This one was taken by @Cathy_Kipp.) The woman with the brown hair in the background is Moroney, the GOP staffer who posted “I have COVID” on Facebook on Nov. 24. pic.twitter.com/kifc02rAeo
— Alex Burness (@alex_burness) November 30, 2020
Moroney was asked to work remotely Monday afternoon after concerns about her test popped up because of the Facebook post, he said.
House GOP Deputy Chief of Staff Susan Raplee said that Moroney is transitioning roles right now, and previously worked under outgoing Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock. Raplee said Moroney would continue on in a different job with the caucus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that a person who has or likely has COVID-19 should stay away from other people until at least 10 days after symptoms first appear, and after not having a fever for 24 hours without the use of medication, as well as with an improvement in other symptoms. If a person tests positive but doesn’t have symptoms, they can be around others 10 days after a positive viral test.
Anyone who’s had close contact with someone who has COVID should quarantine at home for 14 days after exposure, according to the guidelines.
On Monday afternoon, Moroney wrote in a Facebook post that she didn’t take a COVID-19 test at the Capitol that day per her doctor’s recommendation. She shared a screenshot of a message stating that she had been cleared to return to work and that the CDC doesn’t recommend a test-based strategy to clear isolation.
The CDC states that a symptom-based strategy should be used to end isolation, but viral testing can be considered in cases to end isolation or precautions earlier than the recommended guidelines or for those who are severely immunocompromised.
“I did not participate in the testing that was performed at the capitol this morning, as advised by my doctor,” Moroney wrote. “I took her medical, scientific advice, that those who have had covid recently should not retest to confirm they are clear because they will get a positive test. I waited more additional time to return to work after being cleared by my doctor.”
On Monday afternoon, House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, said that Moroney had been kicked out of the Capitol “through the special session and until she tests negative.”
Jarrett Freedman, a spokesman for the House majority, said Democrats do not plan to suspend special session work at the Capitol over this revelation.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Becker told colleagues, “will be working on contract tracing for anyone who may have come in contact. We want to remind everyone that all staff are required to wear masks at all times and get tested before entering the building, or they are not allowed in the building.”
In her statement, Becker also said, “The minority’s dangerous disregard for simple and effective protections and this staffer’s presence on the floor has placed the health of every lawmaker and member of staff at risk.”
Many Republicans in both chambers of the legislature could be seen maskless at various points Monday. Though Democrats set the rules for the building, their leaders have told The Post that they’re disinclined to mandate masks — as opposed to simply encouraging them — in large part because they’re not sure how such a mandate could effectively be enforced.
Lawmakers and staff members working at the Capitol this week are being given one KN95 mask per day, and rapid COVID-19 testing is available to them on a voluntary basis. Each entrant into the Capitol must pass a temperature screening.
This content was originally published here.