Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, wrote to members of Congress on Sunday morning to warn of the possibility that they may have sheltered against the Capitol Hill riot with another member infected with the coronavirus. His warning has turned out to be the reality for three House members so far. The reason for the new cases is being blamed on some Republican lawmakers who refuse to wear face masks. Not all three representatives were sheltering in the same room.
Monahan advised members to monitor for symptoms, continue to wear face masks, and to practice social distancing. House aides confirm that four Republicans sheltered with other lawmakers but rejected face masks offered to them by Democrat Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester – Reps. Andy Biggs, Michael Cloud, Markwayne Mullin, and Scott Perry.
“On Wednesday January 6, many members of the House community were in protective isolation in room located in a large committee hearing space,” Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, wrote in an email that was sent to members of Congress on Sunday morning. “The time in this room was several hours for some and briefer for others. During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”
Monahan did not specify how large the group of lawmakers in the room was.
Rep. Jake LaTurner, a Republican from Kansas, tweeted on Thursday that he had received a positive coronavirus test on Wednesday evening. His spokesman, though, said on Sunday that LaTurner wasn’t in the lockdown area used by two others who have now tested positive.
Congressman LaTurner is following the advice of the House physician and CDC guidelines and, therefore, does not plan to return to the House floor for votes until he is cleared to do so.
— Rep. Jake LaTurner (@RepLaTurner) January 7, 2021
On Sunday, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a Republican from Tennessee, announced he tested positive. He wasn’t not a member who sheltered with the large group of members, either, but was exposed by another member who was infected. He was already in quarantine when he announced his positive test.
Today, I learned that I have tested positive for COVID-19. I have been in quarantine since Wednesday night. I will continue to work for my constituents while self-isolating. I currently feel okay and remain in contact with the Attending Physician.https://t.co/BsGj9RS272 pic.twitter.com/zconzlLkfi
— Chuck Fleischmann (@RepChuck) January 10, 2021
Rep. Pramila Jayapal from Washington is now the second Democrat to test positive since the sheltering on Capitol Hill. She began to quarantine after the House voted to affirm Joe Biden’s electoral victory as a precaution. Her concern was legit, as it turns out, as she is now infected with the virus. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman from New Jersey was the first to test positive on the Democrat side this week. Jayapal announced her positive test result Monday night. She blames the maskless Republicans.
Jayapal, who said she was locked down in a committee room for hours with more than 100 people, placed the blame squarely on some of her GOP colleagues.
“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them,” Jayapal said, accusing them of “creating a superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack.”
Jayapal wants any member who refuses to mask-up to be removed from the House floor by the sergeant-at-arms and fined.
In her statement on Monday, she said that any lawmaker who refuses to wear a mask inside the Capitol should be fined and removed from the floor by the sergeant-at-arms. (The Committee on House Administration already says it is a “critical necessity” to mask up while indoors at the Capitol.)
“This is not a joke,” she added. “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.”
You know, someone should tell Nancy Pelosi that idea of removing members and fining them. She allowed a plexiglass box to be built in order to allow infected Democrat members of Congress to vote for her as Speaker of the House. Hey, maybe the representatives caught the virus from the germs of those already infected but deliberately allowed onto the floor of the House for that vote. No one thinks the coronavirus is a joke yet Democrats clearly don’t believe their own fearmongering if they ignore commonsense mitigation – like staying home in quarantine when infected – when it’s convenient for them.
Jayapal has received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, as is true for most congressmen and women. The vaccine doesn’t protect right away. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old cancer survivor who was sheltering with some maskless Republicans, as Jayapal did.
Today Rep. Brad Schneider from Illinois announced he, too, has tested positive after the events of last week. He said he will cast his vote on Trump’s impeachment by proxy due to his diagnosis.
Schneider said he was in close contact with several Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks during the siege.
“After narrowly escaping a violent mob incited by the president of the United States to attack the Capitol and its occupants, I was forced to spend several hours in a secure but confined location with dozens of other members of Congress,” Schneider said in a statement.
“Several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask… even when politely asked by their colleagues. 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.”
I agree that not wearing a mask when recommended social distancing isn’t possible is selfish. A mask protects others from your germs. We protect others around us best when we all wear them. After months and months of the coronavirus pandemic, the recommended mitigation remains to wear a face mask, social distance, wash your hands, and if symptoms develop, contact a physician and quarantine. It’s not a sign of weakness to wear a mask and it doesn’t prove personal freedom, either. It’s a highly contagious disease. We don’t have to be hysterical but just use some basic common sense.