Democrats who test positive for COVID-19 slam Republicans who wouldn't mask up in Capitol riot

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Pramila Jayapal, congresswoman from Washington, said she has tested positive for COVID-19 and criticized Republican members of Congress who declined to wear a mask when it was offered to them during last week's riot.

While it's not clear how she contracted the virus, Jayapal said in a tweet that "several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one."

"Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them," she said in a separate statement.

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

Jayapal said she was in isolation but continuing to work.

Jayapal's statement came after her Democratic colleague in the House, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, said Monday that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and before Brad Schneider of Illinois announced his diagnosis on Tuesday morning.

Both Jayapal and Watson Coleman received the first shot of a coronavirus vaccine offered to members of Congress, but experts have said it can take a week or two to build up antibodies to resist the virus after receiving either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, with a second jab weeks later required to offer more robust protection.

Dozens of lawmakers were 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."

A video obtained by Punchbowl News showed Republicans refusing the offer of a mask. They included Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who has expressed support for the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon and been criticized for making racist comments.

'Immediately removed'

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."

Schneider, also a Democrat, echoed that sentiment in a statement.

"Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife's health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff," Schneider said.

He said he would have to vote on any House measures by proxy.

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."

Watson Coleman, who's battled cancer in the recent past, was among the members of Congress who received their first shot of a coronavirus vaccine.

Nearly 50 members of Congress have contracted the coronavirus since the pandemic began early last year. Three Republicans announced a positive diagnosis on the very day of the Capitol riot: Gus Bilirakis of Florida, Jake LaTurner of Kansas and Michelle Steel of California.

Tennessee congressman Chuck Fleischmann, who reportedly shares a Washington residence with Bilirakis, said on Sunday he had tested positive and has been in quarantine since the night of Jan. 6.

Two other Republicans from Texas, Kevin Brady and Kay Granger, revealed positive test results in the days preceding Jan. 6.

Luke Letlow, a congressman-elect from Louisiana, died on Dec. 29 at the age of 41 from complications related to COVID-19 only days before he would have been sworn into office.