Los Angeles Times
More lawmakers test positive after Capitol lockdown
WASHINGTON — Within a span of about 24 hours, three House Democrats have announced that they tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting concern that last week’s insurrection at the Capitol was a super- spreader event that threatens the health of lawmakers and their staffs.
Those who tested positive were among the dozens of lawmakers whisked to a secure location Jan. 6 when pro- Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol. Some members of Congress huddled for hours in the large room; others were there for a shorter time.
Although it’s not certain where and when lawmakers were infected, the Capitol’s attending physician notified all House lawmakers of possible virus exposure and urged them to be tested.
Dr. Brian Moynihan said members who were in protective isolation that day “may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”
The three Democratic lawmakers directed their anger toward some House Republicans who were in the secure room and declined to wear a face covering. Video surfaced of multiple Republican lawmakers refusing to wear a mask even when they were offered one.
“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti- maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” Rep. Brad Schneider ( D- Ill.) said Tuesday.
Schneider’s comments came a few hours after similar remarks from Rep. Pramila Jayapal ( D- Wash.).
“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them,” Jayapal said. “Only hours after President Trump incited a deadly assault on our Capitol, our country and our democracy, 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.”
Jayapal’s statement came after Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman ( D- N. J.) said Monday that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. A news release from Watson Coleman’s office Monday noted that “a number of members within the space ignored instructions to wear masks.”
All three lawmakers are isolating. Schneider said he had no symptoms; Watson Coleman said she had mild, cold- like symptoms. Jayapal did not elaborate on how she was feeling but noted that she began to quarantine out of concern about conditions in the secured room.
Within hours of the announcements, Reps. Debbie
‘ Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them.’ — Rep. Pramila
Dingell ( D- Mich.) and Anthony G. Brown ( D- Md.) introduced legislation that would impose a $ 1,000 f ine on any member of Congress who refuses to wear a mask on Capitol grounds during the COVID- 19 pandemic.
“It is not brave to refuse to wear a mask; it is selfish, stupid and shameful behavior that puts lives at risk,” Dingell said.
Jayapal called on the sergeant at arms to remove from the House f loor any lawmaker who declines to wear a mask.
“This is not a joke,” she said. “Our lives and our livelihoods are at risk, and anyone who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy.”