PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Legislature is closing for a week because of recent potential exposure to COVID-19, including from Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's attorney who was maskless when he met with several Republican lawmakers less than a week before he was admitted to a hospital with the coronavirus.
The Legislature is not in session but two informational hearings had been scheduled.
“Out of an abundance of caution for recent cases and concerns relating to COVID-19, the House building will be closed for one week,” Michael Hunter, chief of staff for the House's GOP majority, wrote in an email. No one is allowed to work or meet in the building, he said, adding lawmakers and staff should hold their meetings remotely.
The Senate took similar action, said Mike Philipsen, a spokesman for the majority Republicans.
Giuliani’s meetings were among the potential coronavirus exposures that prompted the closure, said Andrew Wilder, a spokesman for House Republicans. Trump tweeted Sunday that Giuliani, his personal attorney, had tested positive for COVID-19. Giuliani was exhibiting some symptoms and was admitted to Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Giuliani was in Phoenix last week as part of his quest to overturn Trump's election loss based on unfounded allegations of fraud. He met on Tuesday with Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Senate President Karen Fann, both Republicans. A day earlier, Giuliani and fellow Trump attorney Jenna Ellis held a meeting at a Phoenix hotel to review their unsubstantiated allegations. At least nine Republican lawmakers attended.
The Trump campaign said in a statement that Giuliani tested negative twice before his visit to Arizona.
With the Legislature closed, the Senate Finance Committee canceled a meeting to go over the financial impacts of two ballot measures voters approved this year, one to legalize and tax recreational marijuana and the other to raise taxes on people with high incomes to boost education funding.
Also canceled was a joint meeting of House and Senate committees to review the Office of Sonora, an arm of the governor's office that facilitates Arizona's relationship with its neighboring state in Mexico.
Republicans are acting irresponsibly by taking a cavalier attitude toward the coronavirus, putting the business of the Legislature at risk, said Rep. Reginald Bolding, the incoming Democratic leader in the House. Many of the incoming Republicans ignored a request to wear masks at a new member orientation last week, Bolding said.
“The state is being held hostage based on people not taking health and safety recommendations,” Bolding said.
Wilder, the House spokesman, said there are no plans to change the Jan. 11 start date for the next legislative session. Some of the opening day ceremonies may be held elsewhere, he said.
The House is implementing a variety of measures to hold the session more safely, he said. Partitions will separate lawmakers' desks on the floor and in hearing rooms, audience seats will be marked off to maintain social distancing and air purifiers have been installed throughout the building. People entering will be offered masks and have their body temperatures checked.