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Florida House to Screen Members, Staff to Mitigate Coronavirus Risk Before Thursday Budget Vote

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (March 18, 2020) — When the Florida House of Representatives convenes Thursday to vote on the 2020-21 statewide budget, all members will undergo an on-site health screening before being admitted to the chamber. This new procedure is the latest addition to a list of steps the Florida House is taking, consistent with CDC guidance, for mitigating risks associated with coronavirus. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Rep. Cary Pigman, an emergency-medicine physician from Okeechobee, will work with a team of three volunteer nurse practitioners as they complete the screenings. The process will consist of a brief series of questions and use of a no-touch thermometer -- consistent with CDC guidelines. Any member who shows signs of a fever, other symptoms, or who may have had exposure to the virus will be asked to self-isolate. (They will be invited to submit a vote after roll call and comments explaining their vote in writing for inclusion in the House Journal.) A memo (below) with this information was distributed to Florida House members and staff on Tuesday. HB 5001, the 2020-21 General Appropriations Act (GAA) was published Sunday evening. In coordination with the Florida Senate, the House will convene at noon Thursday for the exclusive purpose of a vote on the following: HB 5001; HB 5003, Implementing the 2020-2021 General Appropriations Act; and, HB 5005, Collective Bargaining. The Florida House previously announced it will take the following precautionary steps, at a minimum:

  • canceling the traditional sine die ceremony to limit large gatherings

  • closing the House galleries to all visitors

  • encouraging all members of the public and House staffers to watch the proceedings live at

  • excusing any member from attendance who has symptoms associated with the virus or who meets the criteria for being part of the higher risk population

  • encouraging members to travel alone -- without their district staffers -- and by car instead of plane, and also advising social distancing to protect themselves and others

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