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Congresswoman has COVID after GOP colleagues refused masks during Capitol lockdown

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) is a recent lung cancer survivor and at high risk for having complications from the virus.

By Emily Singer - January 11, 2021
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December 5, 2019 - Washington, DC, United States: U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) speaking at a press conference to introduce legislation to end school pushout. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) announced on Monday that she tested positive for the coronavirus, saying she was exposed to contagious and deadly virus “during protective isolation in the U.S. Capitol building as a result of insurrectionist riots” after a number of her Republican colleagues refused to wear masks.

Coleman Watson is a lung cancer survivor, which makes her at higher risk for complications from the virus. She was first diagnosed in 2018 but has been cancer-free since early 2019, when she was sworn in for another term with a bald head from her treatment. Her statement said she is currently experiencing mild symptoms.

Watson Coleman is the third member of Congress to test positive after the attack at the Capitol. Reps. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) and Jake LaTurner (R-KS) both tested positive and were present at the Capitol during the riot — after which they both voted to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Congress’ attending physician warned lawmakers that they were exposed to the virus during the lockdown.

“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,” physician Brian Monahan said in a memo to members of Congress and their staff.

Video from the room where members of Congress were sheltering in place showed Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) trying to hand out masks to then-maskless Republican Reps. Andy Biggs (AZ), Michael Cloud (TX), Markwayne Mullin (OK), Scott Perry (PA), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA).

But the group refused to wear them, smirking when Rochester got frustrated with their decision to turn down the face coverings, which experts say slow the spread of the deadly virus.

The refusal to wear masks followed Republicans’ conduct on the House floor before the insurrection began, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to make numerous reminders that Republicans were violating social distancing rules as they congregated on the House floor before engaging in their  attempt to overturn the Electoral College results.

Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that the violent terror attack at the Capitol was likely a “surge event” with the potential of spreading the virus throughout the country as newly infected rioters travel back to their home states following their criminal mischief.

To date, more than 374,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States. And the death toll is growing by the thousands each day, as those infected around Christmastime are now losing their lives from the virus they contracted during gatherings.

Dozens of members of Congress have tested positive for the virus throughout the pandemic.

Back in December, Republican Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, an otherwise healthy 41-year-old, died from the coronavirus just days before he was set to be sworn in.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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