Politics

Three lawmakers test positive for Covid after Capitol lockdown

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Key Points
  • At least three Democratic lawmakers have tested positive for Covid-19 since being placed in lockdown last week during the siege of the Capitol.
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., have all confirmed their test results.
  • Jayapal and Schneider slammed Republicans who refused to wear masks while sheltering during the D.C. riot.
Representative Pramila Jayapal (L) and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J.
Getty Images

At least three Democratic lawmakers have tested positive for Covid-19 since being placed in lockdown last week during the siege of the Capitol.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., announced early Tuesday that she had tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the second lawmaker to contract the virus after the riot. Later in the day, Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said he had tested positive.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., said Monday that she had received a positive test result.

Jayapal is 55, Schneider is 59 and Watson Coleman is 75. Older people are more susceptible to severe illness from the coronavirus. Jayapal and Watson Coleman had each received the first dose of a Covid vaccine, which requires two shots, spaced weeks apart, to be fully effective. It wasn't immediately clear if Schneider had received a dose.

In statements announcing their positive test results, Jayapal and Schneider slammed Republicans who refused to wear masks while sheltering on Wednesday.

"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.

Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL) speaks about his experiences during a trip to Israel and Auschwitz-Birkenau as part of a bipartisan delegation from the House of Representatives while Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) listens on January 28, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Samuel Corum | Getty Images

"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," Schneider said.

At least six House Republicans were filmed refusing to wear masks while in lockdown, according to a video posted online by Punchbowl News. Those seen on video were Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Michael Cloud of Texas and Doug LaMalfa of California.

On Sunday, Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress' attending physician, warned that in that period "individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection."

Jayapal had said in an interview with The Cut published on Friday that she believed the event was likely to spread infections.

"I'm quarantining now because I am convinced that where we ended up, in the secured room — where there were over 100 people and many were Republicans not wearing masks — was a superspreader event," the Washington Democrat told the website in an interview her office said was conducted Thursday.

Jayapal did not specify in her statement whether she is experiencing symptoms. She said she is isolating and "will continue to work to the best of my ability because the deep urgency of our many crises is paramount."

Schneider said he was not experiencing symptoms.

"Since driving home to Deerfield from Washington, I have remained isolated as much as possible from my wife in our house and have not experienced other close contacts since my exposure on Wednesday," he said.

Watson Coleman said that she was resting at home.

"While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents," she said in a statement.

Jayapal called for consequences for members of Congress who failed to take precautions against the virus.

"I am also calling for serious fines to be immediately levied on every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol," Jayapal said in her statement.

"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," she added.

Schneider also called for those who don't wear masks to be removed from the House floor.

House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., didn't respond to a request for comment.

The coronavirus infections come as the House of Representatives moves forward this week on parallel measures to remove President Donald Trump from office.

The House is expected to pass a resolution on Tuesday calling for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. On Wednesday it is expected to consider an article of impeachment that was introduced Monday. Lawmakers who are isolating or quarantined will be able to cast votes by proxy.

More than 375,000 people in the U.S. have died of Covid-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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