The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol last week has resulted in at least five deaths, and may have even been a coronavirus superspreader event. On Monday night, Democratic congresswoman Pramila Jayapal announced she had tested positive for COVID-19 after being sequestered for several hours with maskless Republican colleagues.
Jayapal, who said she was locked down in a secure room "where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one," was the second representative to test positive for virus following the siege.
On Monday, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey said she had tested positive "following the events of Wednesday, including sheltering with several colleagues who refused to wear masks."
In an interview with The Cut on Thursday, Rep. Jayapal had expressed her fears that the attack led to a superspreader event.
"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," she said.
According to the New York Times, Dr. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician of Congress, warned that "individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection" during the attacks, and recommended that House lawmakers obtain a coronavirus test as a precaution.
Rep. Susan Wild, a Pennsylvania Democrat, told CBS News last week that during the siege, lawmakers evacuated from the Capitol were taken to a secure location that held 300-400 people, adding that some lawmakers refused to wear masks.
"It's exactly the kind of situation that we've been told by the medical doctors not to be in, you know, close proximity, especially with people who aren't wearing masks," she said. "We weren't even allowed to get together with our families for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and now we're in a room with people who are flaunting the rules and are very much crowded in here."
On Monday evening, Coleman tweeted, "While I feel ok, on my doctor's advice I'm on my way to a local hospital for monoclonal antibody treatment."
"Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy," Jayapal tweeted. "I'm calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms."
Jayapal added that she is isolating per the Capitol physician's instructions, but "will continue to work to the best of my ability because the deep urgency of our many crises is paramount."
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