Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. and Rep. Brad Schneider, D.- Ill. both announced they tested positive for the virus Tuesday. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey said she tested positive Monday.
All three were among dozens of lawmakers whisked to a secure location when rioters stormed the Capitol.
The Capitol’s attending physician, Dr. Brian Moynihan, wrote Sunday that “many members of the House community were in protective isolation in the large room — some for several hours”. He said “individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”
Some members of Congress huddled for hours in the large room, while others were there for a shorter period.
Both Jayapal and Schneider said they believe they were exposed during the protective isolation.
While the virus most often spreads from person to person, it is possible to pass it on without showing any symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also says the “virus may be able to infect people who are further than 6 feet away from the person who is infected or after that person has left the space.”
Case investigation and contact tracing are part of the process of supporting patients and warning contacts of exposure in order to stop chains of transmission, according to the CDC.
Both lawmakers released the following statements:
Statement from Rep. Jayapal:
Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them. Only hours after President 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 — creating a superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack. “While I am isolating per the Capitol Physician’s instructions, I will continue to work to the best of my ability because the deep urgency of our many crises is paramount. I share the outrage and anger of my constituents and those across this country who have watched Donald Trump fail to combat this raging pandemic and refuse to take care of Americans who are suffering, dying, and devastated. Now, we have also watched him openly fuel and incite these insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol and our democracy on January 6—so I will not rest until I do everything in my power to remove this President from office. I am also calling 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. 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.”
Statement from Rep. Schneider:
Unfortunately, I received a positive COVID-19 test this morning following being tested yesterday on the advice of the House Attending Physician.
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. Several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask, as demonstrated in video from Punchbowl News, even when politely asked by their colleagues. 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. I am at least the third Member from that room paying the price, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a 75-year-old cancer survivor.
Wearing a mask is not a political statement, it is public health guidance, common courtesy, and simply what should be expected of all decent people.
We can no longer tolerate Members coming to the floor or gathering in the halls of Congress without doing the bare minimum to protect those around them. Those that flout public health guidance should be sanctioned and immediately removed from the House floor by the Sergeant at Arms for their reckless endangerment of their colleagues.
Thankfully, I have not yet experienced symptoms and am in the care of capable physicians. Since driving home to Deerfield from Washington, I have remained isolated as much as possible from my wife in our house and have not experienced other close contacts since my exposure on Wednesday.
This week, the House is doing critical work to protect our national security, our democracy, and our Constitution, moving to remove the President from office after he incited this angry mob of domestic terrorists. I regret that I must take these votes by proxy.Rep. Brad Schneider, D.- Ill.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.