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The COVID-19 demise of the speaker of the New Hampshire Home of Representatives has raised fears that different members of one of many world’s largest legislatures might need been uncovered at their swearing-in final week

The speaker of the New Hampshire Home of Representatives died of COVID-19, a health worker dominated Thursday, a day after the Republican’s surprising demise, elevating issues that different members of one of many world’s largest legislative our bodies might need been uncovered at their swearing-in final week.

Dick Hinch, who was sworn in Dec. 2 as chief of the state’s newly Republican-led, 400-member Legislature, died Wednesday. He was 71 and had been beginning his seventh two-year time period within the state Home.

His demise was introduced Wednesday night time by his workplace, which didn’t give particulars of what it referred to as “this surprising tragedy.” Hinch is the primary New Hampshire speaker to die in the course of the session, in keeping with Home Clerk Paul Smith.

Greater than 1 / 4 of Home members, most of them Democrats, skipped the ceremony after studying the day earlier than that a number of Republican lawmakers had examined optimistic for the virus after attending a Nov. 20 indoor GOP caucus assembly the place many attendees weren’t carrying masks.

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At the very least one Republican blamed Hinch’s demise on a tradition pushed by anti-mask forces.

“I imagine the peer strain exerted by these within the Republican Get together who refuse to take cheap precautions is the final word reason for Speaker Hinch’s passing,” Republican Rep. William Marsh, a retired physician, stated in an electronic mail to The Related Press.

They stated they may seek the advice of with the state Division of Well being and Human Companies and the legislature’s administrative workplace concerning any extra steps wanted past the present contact tracing and COVID-19 protocols in place “to make sure the continued safety of our legislators and employees.”

Well being Commissioner Lori Shibinette wouldn’t say whether or not Hinch had examined optimistic for the coronavirus earlier than his demise and couldn’t say when he started exhibiting signs. The state will examine, she stated, together with monitoring down folks whom Hinch might need uncovered.

“A part of the case investigation is to research the date of onset of signs, after which we return a few days from there and do all the contact tracing,” Shibinette stated.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu instructed reporters that Hinch’s demise was a “only a stark reminder, sadly, that this virus doesn’t care when you’re in a long-term care facility, or when you’re an elected official.”

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“Nobody is immune. It’s spreading in our group; it doesn’t have an effect on the aged, it impacts everybody, in all places, and we have now to remain vigilant,” he stated.

Democrats referred to as on Sununu’s workplace to supply testing for all statehouse staffers, in addition to any lawmakers who attended the swearing-in ceremony final week. A spokesperson for Sununu stated the Division of Well being and Human Companies has instructed legislative leaders that the required assets can be made accessible for testing.

The Home held a number of periods inside an enviornment final spring to permit for acceptable social distancing — with about 4 dozen Republicans who refused to put on masks in a separate space.

Packard, who represents Londonderry and is serving his fifteenth time period within the Home, will stay the appearing speaker till the complete Home membership meets Jan. 6.

Republicans gained majorities in each chambers in November. Hinch beforehand served as majority chief for the 2016-17 session and as minority chief when Democrats have been in management the previous two years.

In an emotional speech when he was elected speaker Dec. 2, Hinch urged lawmakers to view one another as “buddies and colleagues,” reasonably than members of opposing events, notably throughout a pandemic.

“I’ve been working with members of our caucus in good occasions and in unhealthy for numerous phrases. Lengthy nights, nerve-racking days, however charging forward for what we believed was the right course,” he stated. “By means of that point, I’ve labored to make sure that everybody has a seat on the desk.”

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