Rep. Jayapal tests COVID-19 positive after sheltering during Capitol breach

Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Monday that she has tested positive for the coronavirus. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Jan. 12 (UPI) — Rep. Pramila Jayapal said she has tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering in a secured room of the U.S. Capitol with other lawmakers as supporters of President Donald Trump sieged the building.

The Washington Democrat announced her diagnosis late Monday in a statement while chastising her Republican colleagues who “recklessly refused to wear masks” as they sought refugee from the attack on the Capitol building on Wednesday.

“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 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.”

She said their actions created “a super-spreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack.”

The announcement came after Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., announced on Monday that she had tested positive after being exposed while sheltering in the U.S. Capitol building.

The lawmakers were certifying election results that said President-elect Joe Biden had won November’s presidential election on Wednesday when the Trump supporters stormed the building in opposition to the procedure, forcing the elected officials into a secured location of the building.

Other lawmakers have tested positive following the siege, including Republican Reps. Jake LaTurner, of Kansas, on Thursday and Rep. Charles J. “Chuck” Fleischmann, of Tennessee, on Sunday.

On Sunday, Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, had warned House lawmakers in an email that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 while under lockdown in the building.

Jayapal, who began quarantining after the attack, said she will continue to work while in isolation “to the best of my ability” due to the urgency of crisis the country is facing and is calling for lawmakers who refuse to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed 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.”


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