In an email Sunday, the attending physician to Congress notified lawmakers that on Wednesday, as they huddled together in a room to escape a riot inside the Capitol, they may have been exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus.
The physician, Brian Monahan, wrote that “many members of the House community were in protective isolation in a room located in a large committee hearing space. The time in this room was several hours for some and briefer for others. During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”
Two House aides confirmed to The Washington Post that the room in question appeared in a video posted by Punchbowl News on Friday. The clip showed Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) trying to pass out masks to lawmakers without face coverings. Republican Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Michael Cloud (Texas), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.), and Scott Perry (Pa.) all refused to take one.
Monahan instructed lawmakers to monitor for symptoms, practice social distancing, wear a mask, and get tested. Since Wednesday’s siege, Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-Kan.) and Rep. Charles Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) have announced they tested positive for the coronavirus, but spokesmen for both lawmakers told the Post they were not in the lockdown room.
The riot was a super-spreader event, said Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. The crowd “wasn’t adhering to what we know are good practices in terms of mask-wearing and other things,” he said on Sunday’s Face the Nation. “I think they deliberately eschewed those things. So, yeah, we’re going to see chains of transmission come out of that kind of a gathering, for sure.”