While Congressional members and staff were sheltering in place during the U.S. Capitol riot yesterday, some Republican Congressional members refused to wear masks even while in close quarters, according to reports. This has caused some to express concern that the riots might also lead to a COVID-19 outbreak among Congressional members.
Some GOP Members Wouldn’t Wear Masks While Sheltering in Close Quarters
Yesterday afternoon, terrorists stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from fulfilling our constitutional duty to certify the election results. Last night, I was back on the house floor to get the job done.
Pennsylvania will always come first. pic.twitter.com/Mf8uDzej7d
— Rep. Susan Wild (@RepSusanWild) January 7, 2021
Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania told CBS while sheltering in place that some Republican members sheltering with her refused to wear masks.
Wild told CBS Philly while she was sheltering in place: “It’s what I would call a COVID super spreader event. About half of the people in the room are not wearing masks. Even though they’ve been offered surgical masks, they’ve refused to wear them. Some of the newer Republican members are openly flaunting that they are refusing to wear a mask.”
She said she was in the House gallery when protesters breached the building and were in the hallway. The doors were barricaded and she was evacuated to a secret location after the hallway was secured. She said they were told to get gas masks under their chairs and evacuate. The day, she said, was emotional and difficult and “possibly the most frightening thing I’ve ever gone through in my lifetime.”
Kyle Griffin of MSNBC shared that a House lawmaker had expressed concern to Punchbowl News about a possible outbreak.
Punchbowl News: House lawmaker: "There's a severe covid outbreak coming among members. At the secure location yesterday at least 50 GOP members refused to wear masks. They were asked repeatedly. Older dem members pleaded. And they wouldn't do it."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 7, 2021
Griffin wrote: “Punchbowl News: House lawmaker: ‘There’s a severe covid outbreak coming among members. At the secure location yesterday at least 50 GOP members refused to wear masks. They were asked repeatedly. Older dem members pleaded. And they wouldn’t do it.'”
At Least One Member of Congress Has Tested Positive for Coronavirus Since the Capitol Was Evacuated
At least one member of Congress has tested positive for coronavirus since the shelter-in-place. It’s not known if he was part of the sheltering in place group or if he wore a mask or not. But he shared that he will now be isolating since receiving the test results.
Jake LaTurner, a Congressman from Kansas, tested positive after taking part in the House vote on Wednesday night, The Kansas City Star reported. The test result came in late Wednesday night and he followed his doctor’s advice to not return to the House floor afterward.
Braden Dreiling, LaTurner’s chief of staff, told The Kansas City Star: “Congressman LaTurner is following the advice of the House physician and CDC guidelines and, therefore, does not plan to return to the House floor for votes until he is cleared to do so.”
The test was part of travel guidelines for D.C., and he’s not experiencing any symptoms. He had taken part in the Arizona objection vote in the House, supporting the objection, and missed the Pennsylvania vote later that night because of his positive diagnosis.
Tara Smith, an epidemiology professor from Kent State University, told The Hill that the Capitol riot might be a superspreader event for the people who participated in the riots too.
“From what I saw in pictures and video, you had a large congregation of individuals who were in close contact for an extended period of time and almost universally unmasked,” Smith said. “I saw many photos of individuals coming and going on buses as well, also unmasked, and hanging out in hotel lobbies.”