Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman has tested positive for COVID-19 in the final stretch of the 2022 legislative session.
"My allergies seemed a little bit worse this morning than a normal spring day, so I thought it would be prudent to check," Hortman tweeted Wednesday morning. "Out of an abundance of caution, I took a COVID test that came back positive."
Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said she will continue to participate in end-of-session negotiations remotely. She has been in behind-the-scenes meetings for days with DFL Gov. Tim Walz and Senate Republican Majority Leader Jeremy Miller.
A Senate spokesperson said Miller "is following CDC guidelines and does not need to quarantine. He is not experiencing any COVID symptoms. If that changes, he will take the recommended precautions."
"I spoke with Speaker Hortman on the phone this morning, and I wish her a speedy recovery," said Miller, R-Winona.
Walz said he's following CDC guidelines and wasn't within 6 feet of Hortman, but "it's enough to just be cautious."
"The one good thing is we all know now how to run Teams," Walz said Wednesday, adding that she could be back in the mix negotiating in person early next week. "We'll make it work."
Top leaders are trying to strike a deal on how to spend the remainder of a nearly $9.3 billion projected budget surplus on tax cuts, public safety measures, classrooms and more. They've already agreed to spend more than $3 billion to replenish a state unemployment insurance fund and send $750 checks to workers on the front lines of the pandemic. They also agreed to pump $700 million into continuing a state program designed to keep health insurance premiums low.
Leaders are also negotiating a possible package of construction projects in a bonding bill. The regular session must adjourn by May 23, and Walz has said he will not call a special session.
The fast-spreading BA.2 variant of coronavirus is causing a surge in cases and hospitalizations in Minnesota but is not causing as high a rate of severe illness. Hortman said she is fully vaccinated and boosted and "feeling fine."