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The Missouri Senate has vowed to try to keep working, despite the decision of their colleagues in the Missouri House of Representatives to cancel next week's legislative work because of COVID-19 infections at the State Capitol.

Republican House leadership announced Thursday: "Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the building, we are exercising an abundance of caution to protect members, staff and visitors by canceling session next week (Jan. 18-21). Our goal is to return to work the following week."

House leaders didn't specify how many lawmakers and staffers are ill, but at least two lawmakers tested positive and another is quarantining, the Associated Press reported.

After last year's regular legislative session was drastically interrupted by the start of the pandemic, and COVID-19 cases continued to pop up at the Capitol throughout the two special sessions called in the summer and fall.

While the House has already had a temporary setback in its second week of session, Republican Senate leadership said Friday they intend to have continue session as scheduled next week, starting Tuesday.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, and Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said: "At this early stage in the legislative session, it's critical that we keep the process moving forward for the benefit of all Missourians. The greater ease to which senators and staff can remain socially distant gives us confidence in our ability to work safely through the week.

"We are cognizant of the fluid nature of this pandemic and will make adjustments to the Senate schedule as are appropriate. Individual senators have taken additional precautions in their own offices and testing is available for symptomatic employees working in the Capitol building."

There had not been a formal testing strategy in place at the start of session this month.

Rowden added Friday in statements on Twitter: "Our frontline workers and teachers continue to answer the call to serve, so we will continue to work as hard as possible in #MOLeg to do the same. We recognize this is a day by day, and sometimes hour by hour situation. Our goal will always be to find the balance between serving our constituents and keeping #MOLeg members and staff safe."

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