UPDATE 1/12/2021, 11:15am EST: And now there is a third. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill) announced Tuesday morning that he, too, has tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering with maskless Republican colleagues.
In a statement, Schneider said that during the insurrection he was “forced to spend several hours in a secure but confined location with dozens of other Members of Congress” and “several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask.”
So far, Schneider reported that he has not experienced symptoms but was nevertheless concerned. “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,” he said. “Wearing a mask is not a political statement, it is public health guidance, common courtesy, and simply what should be expected of all decent people.”
Like Rep. Jayapal before him, he too called for maskless lawmakers to be sanctioned and immediately removed from the House floor. The original story follows.
Original post, 1/12/2021 10:42am EST: A second lawmaker announced that she has tested positive for COVID-19 days after bunkering with Republican colleagues who “recklessly” and “cruelly” refused to wear a mask amid the attack on the Capitol building.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) revealed her positive test late Monday in a scathing statement, linking her infection to the events of January 6 and blasting her colleagues across the aisle for putting others’ health at risk.
“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them. 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—creating a superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack,” Jayapal said in the statement.
During the attack, Jayapal is believed to have been in the now-infamous secured room where scores of lawmakers and their staff huddled for safety. Video from the room—where some lawmakers sheltered for hours—showed multiple Republican lawmakers and staff sitting maskless amid the crowd and refusing to put on masks offered by Democractic colleague Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.).
The maskless Republicans included Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Michael Cloud (Texas), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.), and Scott Perry (Pa.). According to other reports, Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), and Doug LaMalfa (Calif.) were also not wearing masks for extended periods of time.
On Sunday, the attending physician to Congress, Brian Monahan, sent an alert to lawmakers warning them that they may have been exposed to the pandemic coronavirus while huddled in the room.
Jayapal is the second member of Congress to test positive after sheltering in the room. On Monday, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) announced that she had tested positive and was in isolation. According to a statement released by her office, Watson Coleman “believes she was exposed during protective isolation in the US Capitol building as a result of insurrectionist riots” and noted in a tweet that she sheltered with “several colleagues who refused to wear masks.”
Coleman, a 75-year-old cancer survivor, said she was in “good spirits” and was only suffering “mild, cold-like symptoms” so far. Jayapal did not say if she was experiencing symptoms but said in the statement that while she is in isolation she “will continue to work to the best of my ability.”
According to reporting by The New York Times, many House Democrats are worried about Rep. Watson Coleman and angry about how she is believed to have been infected. In a private caucus call with House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly acknowledged that their mask enforcement efforts were not working and suggested having Capitol Police enforce mask-wearing.
Jayapal took it a step further in her statement, saying:
I am also calling for serious fines to be immediately levied on every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol. Additionally, any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms. This is not a joke. 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.