Political News

Fourth House member tests positive for COVID-19 following siege on Capitol

The United States Capitol building - Washington DC


(WASHINGTON) — A fourth House representative has tested positive for COVID-19 following the riot on Capitol Hill.

On Thursday, Rep. Adriano Espaillat D-N.Y., announced on Twitter that he’d tested positive. “I am following guidance from my physician and quarantining at home,” Espaillat wrote, and called on his constituents and colleagues to prioritize social distancing and mask wearing, even if it inconveniences them.

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., announced Tuesday that he has become infected with the virus after sheltering with several Republicans who were unmasked for “several hours” during the siege.

“Unfortunately, I received a positive COVID-19 test this morning following being tested yesterday on the advice of the House Attending Physician,” Schneider said in a statement.

Schneider said that several Republican lawmakers “adamantly refused to wear a mask” while confined in a room with dozens of other members of Congress, “even when politely asked by their colleagues.”

Schneider is now isolating, “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.

“I am at least the third Member from that room paying the price, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a 75-year-old cancer survivor,” Schneider said.

Jayapal, D-Wash., announced late Monday that she tested positive, saying that “numerous Republican lawmakers recklessly refused to wear masks” while locked down in the secure room.

“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them,” Jayapal said in a statement.

Jayapal called for the lawmakers who did not wear mask to face “serious fines,” adding that any House member who refuses to wear one should be “immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

“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.”

On Monday, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., announced Monday that she had become infected with the virus, stating that some colleagues who sheltered in place in the same room as her during the siege refused to wear masks.

“Following the events of Wednesday, including sheltering with several colleagues who refused to wear masks, I decided to take a Covid test. I have tested positive,” Coleman tweeted.

Coleman is experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, she said in a statement. She previously received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The attending physician to members of the U.S. Congress a day earlier advised lawmakers to get tested for COVID-19 due to possible exposure during the siege on the Capitol.

The potential exposure may have occurred when several members of the House and their staffers were in “protective isolation” in a large committee space for several hours with an individual who was infected with the virus, Dr. Brian P. Monahan wrote in a memo to lawmakers and staff Sunday.

Monahan reminded Capitol staff to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing and recommended they obtain a COVID-19 test next week.

The COVID-19 vaccine first became available to members of Congress late last month, but it’s unclear how many have been vaccinated.

The riot on Capitol Hill could end up being a superspreader event, experts told ABC News.

However, public health officials will not know for weeks how many new COVID-19 cases are linked to the riot.

Thousands of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden by Congress.

Many of the rioters came directly from President Donald Trump’s “Save America” rally, held near the White House, where the president incited his followers to march to the Capitol.

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