Concerns are mounting about the health of lawmakers and other people in the Capitol last week, after the first member to test positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Wednesday’s chaos, said she believed she was exposed in a crowded hiding place with hundreds of other legislators.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., tested positive on Monday while experiencing mild symptoms, and said in a statement that she believes she caught the virus from her fellow lawmakers while hunkering down as Capitol Police struggled for hours to contain a Trump-inspired mob attack on the Capitol.
Lawmakers were trapped in a room near the Capitol with hundreds of others, in some cases for hours, where at least one person who later tested positive for the coronavirus was present.
The Office of the Attending Physician, which oversees the health of members of Congress, warned on Sunday that at least one lawmaker who had COVID-19 was among them as they sheltered in place.
At least 300 people were evacuated to the lockdown area so crowded it was difficult to walk while sharing a single bathroom, according to Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa. Experts in indoor air pollution say COVID-19 thrives in crowds in stuffy, older buildings like that one.
A video surfaced over the weekend of some Republicans in the space ignoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations to protect public health by wearing masks.
They included Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.; Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla.; Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Scott Perry, R-Pa.; and Michael Cloud, R-Texas, who declined surgical masks offered by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del.
A maskless Mullin spoke to the rioters, many of whom also were not wearing masks, in the moments before they overtook the House chamber before lawmakers were evacuated to the lockdown area.
His office did not respond to a request for comment.
It’s still unclear which member of Congress, or members, may have prompted the attending physician’s alert. CDC guidelines stipulate for members who have come into close contact with an infected person for 15 minutes or more to quarantine for 10 days, or for seven days with a negative test result.