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Rep. Joe Runions tests positive for coronavirus, first House member diagnosed


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — State Rep. Joe Runions has tested positive for coronavirus, House leadership confirmed Friday evening. 

“We are still working to notify members and staff that might have been in contact with the member and have requested all employees stay out of the Capitol for at least the next 10 days,” House leadership said in an initial statement that did not identify Runions. “While we learn more and work closely with DHSS to take every precaution necessary, we keep this member and their family in our thoughts and prayers in their battle to return back to health.” 

State Rep. Joe Runions

The Missouri Times first confirmed Runions, who represents HD 37 just south of Kansas City, contracted coronavirus. A House spokesman said he had not been in the Capitol since March 12.

Runions had been hospitalized for the past week with what was thought to be pneumonia, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade said in an email Friday. She said his doctors said he is “over the hump” of the disease but will be in isolation for the next five days.

He “likely contracted the virus” around March 10, she said.

Multiple state representatives said they would self-quarantine over the next 14 days.

The General Assembly is on legislative spring break and took several precautions in recent weeks, including closing some public areas on the House side. The Senate adjourned for the legislative break a week early, and the House held a technical session on Monday and Tuesday and adjourned after a vote on the supplemental budget Wednesday. 

Runions is not a member of the House Budget Committee. He does sit on the Local Government, Transportation, Downsizing State Government, and Rules-Legislative Oversight Committees. He’s also a member of the Joint Committee on Public Employee Retirement and the Joint Committee on Transportation Oversight.

Earlier Friday, the Office of Administration informed employees a person who had recently been in the Truman Building had tested positive for COVID-19. Further information about that individual, such as if he or she is a state employee, was not divulged. 

Three people in Cole County have tested positive for coronavirus, county health officials said Friday. At least 47 Missourians have tested positive, and two people have died.

Several people in Kansas City and Jackson County have tested positive for coronavirus as well, according to the latest statistics released by the state.

The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” while the disease is called “coronavirus disease 2019,” or “COVID-19.” It can cause severe respiratory illnesses with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned.

There have been more than 15,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., and 201 deaths, according to the CDC. Several hundred people in Missouri have been tested. 

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has opened a public hotline operated by medical professionals around the clock seven days a week. The hotline number is 877-435-8411.

This story has been updated. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.