Brad Schneider has become the third Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives to test positive for COVID-19 after being forced into lockdown in a room where several Republicans refused to wear masks during last week’s deadly riot on Capitol Hill.
“Last Wednesday, after narrowly escaping a violent mob incited by the president of the United States to attack the Capitol and its occupants, I was forced to spend several hours in a secure but confined location with dozens of other members of Congress,” Schneider said Tuesday. “Several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask, even when politely asked by their colleagues,” Schneider added.
Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal also said Tuesday she tested positive and criticized Republicans for refusing to accept offers to wear masks during the harrowing 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 (Donald) 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.”
Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman tested positive on Monday, saying in a statement that “a number of members within the space ignored instructions to wear masks.”
Critics of Jayapal have circulated a video shot during the riot in which she herself is seen without a face mask while seeking shelter from the mob. The video shows her with a gas mask in her hand at the time.
None of the Republicans who were in the room and refused to wear a face mask has commented publicly on the allegations.
The Capitol’s attending physician, Dr. Brian Moynihan, notified all legislators last weekend of possible virus exposure and urged them to be tested. Four days after the riot, Moynihan wrote that “individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”
Jayapal has demanded that “serious fines” be immediately imposed on every lawmaker “who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol.”
President Donald Trump last week implored thousands of supporters who had come to Washington for a “Save America March” to walk from the Ellipse just south of the White House to the U.S. Capitol building as lawmakers were in the process of formally confirming Joe Biden’s November 3 presidential victory.
“You will have an illegitimate president. That is what you will have, and we can’t let that happen,” Trump said. Trump added: We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Hundreds of Trump supporters walked to the Capitol building and forced their way inside while lawmakers were meeting in a joint session to certify Biden’s victory.
Many images of the chaotic scenes show rioters not wearing masks.
Watson Coleman is 75 years old, while Schneider is 59 and Jayapal is 55. Older people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Watson Coleman and Jayapal have received the first of two doses of a coronavirus vaccine. It was not immediately known if Schneider had been inoculated.