CONCORD, N.H. — A “small number” of Republican lawmakers who attended a recent caucus meeting have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.

The development, first reported by WMUR-TV, comes a day before the 400-member House and 24-member Senate are set to meet outdoors at the University of New Hampshire to be sworn in and elect officers.

“We have a very small number of people affected and we have no reason to believe that the folks who tested positive will attempt to attend the event,” House Republican Leader Dick Hinch said in a statement Tuesday.

Republican House members gathered Nov. 20 at McIntyre Ski area in Manchester, where they nominated Hinch to become the next House speaker. In his statement, the Merrimack lawmaker declined to discuss details or numbers, and said he is working with the Department of Health and Human Services as it conducts contact tracing.

“We are experiencing higher than usual rates of infections in our state, and the Legislature and its members are not immune from that,” he said. “We are a citizen Legislature, and it can be expected that our legislators are at the same risk as the citizens we represent.”

Rep. Steve Shurtleff, a Concord Democrat whose term as speaker ends Tuesday, learned of the COVID-19 cases via WMUR even though leaders from both parties met at UNH on Monday. He criticized Hinch both for not notifying him and for holding the event in the first place, saying those decisions put the lives of all lawmakers and staff at risk.

“We know from past sessions many members of the Republican Caucus do not take COVID-19 seriously,” he said in a statement. “Shame on Representative Dick Hinch and other members of Republican Leadership for putting politics before the lives of the those who chose to serve in our volunteer Legislature.”

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