Will omicron be a wrecking ball during the 2022 Session?
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 11/30/21-Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, listens during the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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'I'm just concerned about everybody’s welfare. I'm concerned about spreading it to other people.'

It’s the start of only the second week of this year’s Session, and several senators are absent — prompting the cancellation of at least one committee meeting Tuesday.

The absences of Sens. Darryl Rouson, Jason Brodeur, Ileana Garcia and George Gainer are excused, a Senate spokesperson said, but there is speculation that some senators may be missing because of COVID-19 infections.

Gainer’s request to be excused was not COVID-19 related, Senate spokesperson Katherine Betta said. She didn’t comment on the other senators’ requests to be excused.

Rouson, however, told Florida Politics Tuesday morning that he tested positive for COVID-19 in St. Petersburg on Friday after having cold-like symptoms.

Rouson is double-vaccinated and has had a booster shot. He told Florida Politics he wears a mask during committee meetings. He takes it off to talk.

“It’s a breakthrough (infection),” he said.

“I’m just concerned about everybody’s welfare. I’m concerned about spreading it to other people,” Rouson said, adding that he has been self-quarantining since last Friday. He plans on getting another test Wednesday morning with hopes of being in Tallahassee Thursday when the full Senate meets in chamber.

Legislators kicked off their annual 60-day Session without any COVID-19 protocols, just as the number of omicron cases had been surging through the state.

Unlike with the start of the 2021 Legislative Session, no protocols were in place to limit the number of people in the House chamber to hear Gov. Ron DeSantis deliver his State of the State address on Jan. 11.

Many people involved in the process in Tallahassee — including journalists, lobbyists, and legislative staff — had already been infected with COVID-19 just before Opening Day.

Meanwhile, the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee meeting was abruptly canceled on Tuesday morning. Gainer, a Panama City Republican, is a member of that committee. This past weekend, Garcia gave a television interview with CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede, where she refused to say whether she is vaccinated.

“I don’t think that’s a conversation we should continue to have,” Garcia said.

Brodeur did not immediately respond to Florida Politics.

A spokesperson for the Florida House said the chamber did not keep track of members’ health and told Florida Politics to contact each Representative’s office for any additional information. The House did not respond at press time to whether any members had requested an excused absence.

But at least one House member has COVID-19.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith posted on social media that he tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday morning in Orlando. He said he got tested after he experienced moderate symptoms over the long weekend. “I’m fully vaxxed, boosted, and now as a result– nearly 100% better!,” he posted on Twitter.

Guillermo Smith said he would be taking Zoom meetings during the week away from Tallahassee and that he would be “holding leaders accountable virtually.”

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


7 comments

  • Alex

    January 18, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    I bet DeUseless got a bad case and that’s why he disappeared for 9 days, then popped back up at the same time Fox/his office suddenly “knew where he was all along”

  • Jerry

    January 18, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    “Rouson is double-vaccinated and has had a booster shot. He told Florida Politics he wears a mask during committee meetings. He takes it off to talk.”

    Yeah….what a great vaccine!!!

  • Ron Ogden

    January 19, 2022 at 6:18 am

    “Will omicron be a wrecking ball during the 2022 Session?”

    The answer is “No.” The session will continue. The lesson of 2022 is that we have had it with CoVid and the Viddies. This bug isn’t in charge. Take what VOLUNTARY steps you will to stay healthy. Keep Calm and Carry On–and stop with the scare headlines a la above.

  • rass

    January 19, 2022 at 8:31 am

    I wish they would just pass a budget, approve some maps and go home early. Evil rules the agenda in our Legislature!

  • zhombre

    January 19, 2022 at 10:46 am

    The Great Omicron Panic of 2022 in the Florida legislature.

  • just a comment

    January 21, 2022 at 7:52 am

    The wrecking ball will come if the poison politic policies stay in place that includes public record advertising. People are getting sick and tired of foul play and having to pay for these anuses who are stalking there names all over the internet.
    People are getting tired of the discrimination and bias hate.with including the morals of i do not give a dam.
    seriously why else do you want to monitor a stranger.

  • Commentator

    January 21, 2022 at 8:43 pm

    For the sake of all sensible Floridians they should pass the budget and go home. Instead, PIP repeal and mandatory BI mandates are being forced down our throats by the “woke” libs in the FJA, blue-state refugees, and millionaire left wing trial lawyers. We don’t need California style auto insurance in Florida.

    Do not be fooled, folks. There is no data to support proponents’ arguments that the bill as proposed will reduce insurance rates. Experts and commissioned studies instead point to massive rate increases for millions of working-class and low income minority drivers who buy PIP only policies. The rich, who purchase high limit BI policies for their luxury German sedans, are estimated to save big bucks from this proposed bill.

    In turn, massive auto insurance premium increases will lead to more working-class Floridians not buying auto insurance at all. They’ll risk it, instead of paying for much more expensive MBI auto insurance, they’ll be forced to buy food for their families or pay rent to keep a roof over their children’s’ head.

    This is quintessential reverse Robinhood. Stealing from the working poor and giving it to the wealthy elite lawyers. Driving with insurance shouldn’t be a luxury in Florida.

Comments are closed.


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