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Legislative staffers over 60 told to stay home if they have chronic conditions

The doors to the Cordell Hull Building are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

House staffers over the age of 60 who have serious chronic medical conditions won’t be required to report for work while the state Capitol is on limited access because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tennessean’s Joel Ebert reports that an email from House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) told the affected employees they will “receive full pay and benefits during this period of absence.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified the over-60 population as the most vulnerable to the virus. Ebert crunched the numbers to determine that 60 of 132 state lawmakers are at least 60 years old, or 45% of the entire membership.

The House last week ended its internship program in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate did not follow suit at that time. But when the upper chamber’s interns showed up for work on Monday, they were told to go home.

The Cordell Hull Building is operating on a limited-access basis this week, allowing only members, staff, and the press into the facility.