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‘Shut this place down’: Republican Chip Roy rages over reintroduction of face masks in Congress

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Republican congressman Chip Roy has hit out at the reinstatement of face coverings in Congress and called the order both “absurd” and worth shutting down the House for.

The congressman, who has no known background in infectious diseases, ridiculed House speaker Nancy Pelosi and the attending physician in Congress for reintroducing a rule on face masks when indoors and on the floor of the chamber on Wednesday.

It follows the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday reinstating a recommendation for both unvaccinated and vaccinated Americans to wear a mask in areas of high infections – and when in close proximity to others – in the wake of rising infections from the Delta variant of Covid.

Mr Roy told the House chamber on Wednesday morning as the rules were reintroduced: "We have a crisis at our border and we're playing footsie with mask mandates in the people's house. It's absolutely absurd what this body is doing.”

“It's an embarrassment, a mockery, and the American people are fed up, they want to go back to life, they want to go back to business, they want to go back to school without their children being forced to wear masks,” he raged. “We are absolutely sick and tired of this, and so are the American people.”

The congressman, after referencing the crisis at the southern border rather than Covid, went on to attack the Biden administration’s chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, as well as the science of the CDC, which on Wednesday warned of transmission between a few vaccinated individuals.

"Which is it, vaccines or masks? Do the vaccines work or they don't work?” the Republican told his colleagues. “Do the masks work or they don't work? I'd like to know which it is ... I'd like Dr Fauci to come down and answer a single question about natural immunity.”

Mr Roy, who represents Texas's 21st Congressional District, finished by saying: “This institution is a sham, and we should adjourn and shut this place down.”

There is currently no certainty of reaching herd immunity from Covid in the US, with estimates so far in the region of 70 per cent and upwards of the population requiring immunity from either a vaccine or prior infection.

As of Wednesday, only 57.6 per cent of the adult population were fully vaccinated. The CDC added that face coverings were recommended to slow transmission of the virus when indoors, especially in areas of high transmission or crowded gatherings.

In some states, and in particular where Republican’s are in control, the vaccination rate is as low as 40 per cent of all adults with two doses of a vaccine. It includes Alabama, where the state’s governor last week accused “unvaccinated folks” for rising infection rates. She added that masks were only a “temporary” fix.

The Independent has approached Mr Roy’s office for comment.

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