While a deranged mob invaded the United States Capitol last Wednesday, lawmakers in the building retreated to a committee hearing room, seeking safety.
The mob, incited by baseless claims of election fraud made by President Donald Trump and members of Congress such as Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, murdered a police officer but did not kill any politicians. The events of last week could still prove tragic, though, due to the fact that so many lawmakers and staff were crammed into close quarters in the middle of a pandemic spread via airborne transmission.
Not helping matters was the fact that a handful of Republican Congressmen in the room refused to wear masks. One of them was Biggs.
This afternoon, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey announced that she has tested positive for COVID-19. She blames the gathering in the secure room, and specifically the members of Congress who wouldn't put on a mask.
"[Coleman] believes she was exposed during protective isolation in the U.S. Capitol building as a result of insurrectionist riots," a release from Watson's office reads. "As reported by multiple news outlets, a number of members within the space ignored instructions to wear masks."
Coleman's concerns about the gathering have been echoed by no less than Dr. Brian Monahan of Congress' Office of Attending Physician. The Washington Post reports that Monahan wrote in a letter to members of Congress on Sunday that "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.”
Biggs' office did not respond to a request for comment.
Update: Another member of Congress in the room with Biggs has tested positive for the virus. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington — who told The Cut last week that “there were over 100 people [in the room] and many Republicans not wearing masks” — told the Seattle Times Monday night that she had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them," she said. "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 quarantined immediately after leaving the secure room last Wednesday, she told the newspaper.