Idaho lawmakers recess until April amid COVID-19 outbreak

March 20, 2021 4:14 PM EDT

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(Reuters) - The Idaho State Legislature has recessed until April 6 due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the state capitol that has sidelined six lawmakers with the virus, according to local media.

Six members of the Idaho House of Representatives are currently ill, TV station KTVB reported.

Members of both chambers of the Republican-held state legislature voted to recess in proceedings on Friday, at which several lawmakers were not wearing face masks, video showed.

"I'm sure I can say this on behalf of all of us, that we wish our colleagues in the House who are ill with COVID a speedy recovery," State Senator Grant Burgoyne, a Democrat, said in the session on Friday.

New daily COVID-19 cases in Idaho have fallen to about 320 on a 7-day average as of March 15, according to Reuters data. That is down from a surge in December when the state was reporting more than 1,000 new cases daily.

At the Idaho state capitol earlier this month, protesters burned face masks to show their disagreement with local face covering mandates that they view as a violation of civil liberties. The state's Republican Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin attended the event at the capitol, and at least two Republican legislators expressed their support for "Burn the Mask" rallies, the Washington Post reported.

The state Democratic party on Friday blamed the capitol's outbreak on Republicans' refusal to wear masks.

"Let’s be clear: the Republicans and the Republican leadership refused to wear masks, that is why this is happening. Period. Recessing won’t stop the spread. Masks will," the Idaho Democratic Party tweeted on Friday.

State Senate Majority leader Kelly Anthon and Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin did not immediately return requests for comment.

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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