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Second lawmaker has COVID after Republicans refused masks in lockdown

‘Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them,’ said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

By Associated Press - January 12, 2021
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Pramila Jayapal

A second Democratic member of the House who was forced to go into lockdown during last week’s violent siege at the U.S. Capitol has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said she has tested positive and criticized Republican members of Congress who declined to wear a mask when it was offered to them during the lockdown.

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

Jayapal’s statement came after Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey said Monday that she had tested positive for COVID-19.

They were among dozens of lawmakers whisked to a secure location when pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol. A press release from her office on Monday noted that “a number of members within the space ignored instructions to wear masks.”

Some members of Congress huddled for hours in the large room, while others were there for a shorter period.

Both lawmakers are isolating. Jayapal called for “serious fines to be immediately levied on every single member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol.”

“Additionally, any Member who refuses to wear a mask 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.”

Over the weekend, the Capitol’s attending physician notified all lawmakers of possible virus exposure and urged them to be tested.

Dr. Brian Moynihan wrote Sunday that “many members of the House community were in protective isolation in the large room — some for several hours” on Wednesday. He said “individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”


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