In a little more than a month, the doors of the Florida Capitol are scheduled to swing open as 160 legislators get back to work.
The looming question is whether the closed-door, window-free spaces used by lawmakers and hundreds of staff members will be safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s up to Seetha Lakshmi and her team to help figure out how to draw up a plan to accomplish that goal — especially since legislative leaders have already said they are required under law to do their business in person and not remotely.
Lawmakers are scheduled to hold a constitutionally required organization session Nov. 17, when new members will be sworn in and new leaders will be formally selected for the next two years. It’s usually a high-profile event that attracts the governor and other top state officials.
Lakshmi makes it clear: She can’t guarantee that when the House and Senate reopen for business that there will be no risk of contracting COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
“There is never going to be zero risk,” said Lakshmi, an assistant professor of infectious disease at the University of South Florida Morsani College of