Politics

Lawmakers Are Testing Positive For COVID-19 After Maskless "Idiocy" At U.S. Capitol Riot

Public health officials have speculated that the insurrection had the potential to become a “superspreader” event.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) looks on during the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on Online Platforms and Market Power in the Rayburn House office Building, July 29, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. | Getty Images
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) looks on during the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on Online Platforms and Market Power in the Rayburn House office Building, July 29, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. | Getty Images

At least three Congressional members, all Democrats, have tested positive for COVID-19 in the wake of last week’s deadly U.S. Capitol riot. In photos and videos, pro-Trump insurrectionists, many of them maskless and armed, have appeared breaking into — or being ushered into by police — the Capitol and forcing Congress to go into lockdown, evacuate, and recess during its formal certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. 

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) on Tuesday became the latest lawmaker to announce a COVID-19 diagnosis, after Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) announced separately Monday that they tested positive for COVID-19. Coleman said she is experiencing “mild, cold-like symptoms,” and both Jayapal and Coleman said they are continuing to work while in isolation. Coleman, a 75-year-old cancer survivor, has already received the first dose of a COVID-19, per her statement.

Since last week, public health officials have speculated that the insurrection had the potential to become a “superspreader” event — with droves of maskless Trump supporters ignoring social distancing guidelines, breaking into a building, and then travelling back to their respective hometowns. Attending physician to Congress, Brian Monahan, reportedly told members that “individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection” while isolating in a room together.

Jayapal took aim in a statement at her Republican colleagues who refused to wear masks while being held in a safety room, as did Schneider. The Daily Beast reported that “there were as many as 150 people crowded in the space, said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) who was also sheltering there.”

Jayapal wrote: “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 has also called for members of Congress to face consequences such as a fine and removal from the floor for refusing to put on a mask while in the Capitol. She told The Cut in an interview on Thursday that she was quarantining, gauging that about 100 people, many of them maskless, being held together in a room posed a serious health risk. 

“This is not a joke,” Jayapal said in a statement. “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.”