Republicans Refused To Wear Masks While Sheltering At The Capitol. Now, Three Congresspeople Have COVID.
As of Tuesday, three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 following the attack on the Capitol. It started with Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman who announced that she tested positive on Monday; then, Rep. Pramila Jayapal became the second person to declare that she was positive; shortly after, Rep. Brad Schneider also tested positive. One by one, as members of congress continue to confirm their COVID-19 test results, it's clear that the Republicans who refused to wear masks while sheltering may have caused yet another Capitol Hill superspreader.
“I just received a positive COVID-19 test result after being locked down in a secured room at the Capitol where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one,” Jayapal tweeted in a thread Monday night. “Only hours after Trump incited a deadly assault on our Capitol, many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic.”
During the attempted Capitol coup, members of Congress who were on Capitol Hill were ushered into a safe room, as Jayapal detailed, while rioters stormed the building, defecated on the walls, and left threatening messages in various offices. But as she said, many members of Congress refused to take precautions to keep their colleagues safe. Then, on Sunday, Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress’ attending physician, warned that “individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection” during that period of time. Following the attack, Jayapal said she was quarantining because she was convinced that being in a room with 100 people where many Republicans were not wearing masks would quickly become a superspreader event. Other members of Congress, too, have received tests and are awaiting results.
So far, most of Congress received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, but it requires two doses to take full effect, and no one in that room was fully safe from infection. Now, Jayapal has called for members of Congress to be given "serious fines" for refusing to wear masks while indoors with colleagues and staffers in the Capitol, as well as removal from the floor by the Sergeant of Arms if they refuse. "This is not a joke. Our lives and our livelihoods are at risk,” Jayapal said.
This also wouldn't be the first time politicians in D.C. were warned of spreading COVID-19. The last time there was significant spread of COVID-19 among government workers, at least 48 White House officials tested positive after a superspreader event in the Rose Garden.
Although vaccines have begun to be distributed across the country, cases have continued to take a turn for the worse. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that at least 9 million people have been vaccinated since distribution began — but that’s barely a dent in the situation, especially considering that all people must receive not one but two vaccine shots one month apart. That means there’s still a very long way to go — and an even longer way to go until America can reach true herd immunity. At time of publication, more than 375,000 people in the country have died of COVID-19.
The infections of Congress members come just as the House of Representatives plans to move forward with measures to remove President Trump from office this week. The House is expected to pass a resolution calling for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment today.