Workers in Tennessee's legislative office building aren't just trying to avoid catching the coronavirus.
Now, there arebedbugs.
The pests were discovered Wednesday in multiple offices on the fifth floor of the Cordell Hull office building, where House members of the General Assembly and their staff work.
All House staff have now been advised to work from home until after Thanksgiving while offices are treated for bedbugs, according to legislative administration director Connie Ridley.
Cordell Hull Building436 6th Avenue NorthNashville, TN 37243Thursday July 11, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn.(Photo: Larry McCormack, Larry McCormack / THE TENNESSEAN)
"It appears they were unknowingly brought in from a location away from the Cordell Hull Building on clothing or a related item," Ridley said Thursday in response to a question about how legislative officials believe the infestation began.
Due to the pandemic, traffic in and out of Cordell Hull building is already limited only to those who work in the building or who have scheduled an appointment. Many executive branch employees continue to work from home, though the majority of legislative employees are required to continue reporting to the office.
RELATED: House Republicans to gather this week for overnight retreat, despite COVID concerns
While no bedbugs have been detected on other floors, a contractor has advised that the entire building be treated for the insects "out of an abundance of caution," Ridley wrote in an email to legislative employees late Thursday afternoon.
Staff and members working in their fifth-floor offices Wednesday were informed that an exterminator was going to be spraying the area in the coming days, but were not initially told that there was a bedbug infestation.
An email that went out to members Wednesday referenced an "insect problem" and advised legislators to reschedule meetings Thursday and Friday or to move them to an alternate location.
Now, exterminators will take more time to treat the building.
"All House staff have been advised to remain away from the office until after the Thanksgiving Holiday, which will give the contractors time and access to appropriately treat the affected areas," Ridley said in a statement Thursday. "The contractors will continue to assess the facility during this period and make further recommendations if necessary."
In an email sent to Senate staff on Thursday,they were advised to inform Lt. Gov. Randy McNally's office if they "notice any unwelcome guests" in offices.
This appears to be the first documented case of bedbugs in Tennessee General Assembly buildings, according to legislative librarian Eddie Weeks, who noted that "in times past such things may have not been named."
A House resolution in 1893, however, ordered the Capitol superintendent to "take up the entire carpet in this room, and have the same disinfected and put away for safekeeping until the time for the meeting of the next legislature.
Reach Natalie Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @natalie_allison.
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