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Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, right, shows the busted gavel that broke on the first strike of him calling the joint session to order as House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, left, watches as the 85 day regular legislative session begins Monday March 9, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La.

State Senate President Page Cortez began asking senators to wear masks Monday after a student worker in the Senate tested positive for the coronavirus, as did the spouses of several staffers.

“We've asked them to quarantine," Cortez, R-Lafayette, said in an interview Tuesday. "They’re not in the building. I believe we had a student worker who was in an isolated area. We’ve since taken care of that area.”

Cortez said he made his request at the behest of several senators, who noted that the CDC recommends the use of masks in closed public settings. Cortez also noted that Louisiana is now seeing an uptick in the number of new coronavirus cases. The 1,356 new cases confirmed Tuesday were the most since April 7.

Until Monday, reflecting the national political divide, most Republican senators and representatives have not been wearing a mask in the State Capitol while most Democrats have been.

On Tuesday, several more Republican senators wore masks but not a majority.

Cortez spoke to two reporters after Tuesday’s Senate session without a mask – until he was reminded of this, and an aide then fetched one for him that he put on.

Cortez has direct knowledge of the coronavirus. He announced in April that he had been infected in March and was now fine. He said he had no moral obligation report his infection until after he felt better.

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