Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., announced that she has contracted COVID-19 and believes it occurred during the lockdown in the Capitol during last week’s siege.
“I received a positive test result for COVID-19, and am home resting at this time. While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents,” Coleman said in a statement Monday.
She said she took the test after “sheltering with several colleagues who refused to wear masks.”
Legislators were forced into close contact last Wednesday when supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the formal counting of the electoral votes showing Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died due to injuries sustained during the assault. Congress confirmed Biden’s victory a few hours later.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday that the storming was a potential superspreader event.
“I do think you have to anticipate that this is another surge event. You had largely unmasked individuals in a nondistanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol,” Redfield said in an interview with McClatchy.
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., was filmed during the lockdown attempting to hand masks to a number of Republican colleagues, including 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. They all declined.
“By the end of passing them out, I only had one left in my hand offering them to everyone,” Rochester told CNN. “I was disappointed in those who didn’t accept the masks but was encouraged by those who did. At least we were a little bit safer.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., told New York magazine she had gone into isolation following the raid over concerns with the virus.
“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,” Jayapal said.
On Sunday, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., announced that he had tested positive for the virus and had been quarantining since Wednesday night. A spokesperson for his office told the Washington Post that he was not in the lockdown area.
Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, warned of the possibility in an email to members on Sunday.
“On Wednesday January 6, many members of the House community were in protective isolation in room located in a large committee hearing space,” wrote Monahan. “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.”
More than 374,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States. Last week, the nation crossed 4,000 in the single-day death total for the first time.
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