One Democrat, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), grew so offended that she left the safe room, concluding, in keeping with an aide, that “we’re not going to survive a terrorist attack to be exposed to a deadly virus.”
But many stayed behind — and some now suppose they had been uncovered. Nearly a week after the riot, three Democratic lawmakers who had sheltered in that room, together with Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a 75-year-old most cancers survivor, have examined optimistic for the coronavirus.
The outcomes added gasoline to an already burning fireplace of rage that has enveloped Capitol Hill since final week’s violence, as Democrats already blaming lots of their GOP counterparts for inciting the mob that endangered their lives now are fingering them for egocentric conduct that has jeopardized their well being.
The outbreak — dubbed a “superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack” by Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, one of many Democratic lawmakers who examined optimistic — led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to impose stiff fines on members who don’t put on masks.
“The second I realized our ‘safe room’ from the violent white supremacist mob included treasonous, white supremacist, anti masker Members of Congress who incited the mob in the first place, I exited,” Pressley tweeted on Tuesday. “Furious that more of my colleagues by the day are testing positive.”
Several Republican lawmakers seen in a video refusing masks from a Democratic congresswoman didn’t reply to requests for remark, together with Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Doug LaMalfa (Calif.) and Scott Perry (Pa.).
Freshman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who was additionally in that group, referred to as it “absurd” accountable them and shifted it to Pelosi.
“It is absolutely ridiculous and insane to blame those of us who did not have COVID or symptoms,” she stated in an e mail. “The blame lies squarely on Nancy Pelosi and the positive COVID members bringing COVID in the Capitol! It’s absurd to say they caught it during the safe room.”
On Sunday, Brian Monahan, the attending doctor to Congress, informed members that they might have been uncovered to somebody with the virus whereas in “protective isolation.”
The committee room lockdown had all of the elements for a superspreader occasion, stated Harvard University environmental well being knowledgeable Joseph G. Allen. Overcrowding, hours indoors, folks with out masks and low air flow.
“It’s highly likely — and I think probable — that this is a superspreader event, and these lawmakers caught it from spending time in that room,” Allen stated. “I don’t really believe in coincidences: All of a sudden you have three lawmakers,” who had been taking applicable precautions, “thrust into a situation with others who were ignoring that advice” and have since examined optimistic for the virus.
The lockdown room was, at first, a safe space — or so it appeared.
Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Bradley Schneider (D-Ill.) had been amongst these within the gallery overlooking the House flooring when Capitol Police screamed for them to duck. In the hallway one flooring under, a violent mob pounded on doorways and shattered home windows. Then, they heard a single gunshot, the one which killed pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt.
Speier, a survivor of gun violence, stated she pressed her cheek in opposition to the chilly marble flooring and felt a sense of resignation that this may be it. As they had been lastly ushered to a safe location, Speier was shocked at how packed it was — “Like we were sardines,” she stated in an interview.
She turned to Monahan and stated, “This looks like a superspreader event to me.” She left the crowded space for a smaller anteroom, the place for a time she sat throughout from Schneider.
Schneider stated he appeared on the crush of individuals round him and realized that escaping one menace meant exposing himself to a different.
Schneider had been so cautious. His spouse has a well being situation that makes her excessive danger if she contracted the coronavirus. He drives the practically 12 hours from his dwelling in japanese Illinois to Washington somewhat than fly.
On Tuesday, he introduced he had examined optimistic.
“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,” he stated in a assertion.
On Tuesday, Speier wrote a letter signed by 66 of her colleagues imploring House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to require Republicans to put on masks. Pelosi took issues into her personal fingers: Anyone not sporting a masks on the House flooring will probably be fined $500 wonderful for their offense and $2,500 for their second.
“This is not a political statement, this is about whether or not you’re going to use what could be a deadly weapon, which is your saliva particles, to infect someone else who could become gravely ill,” Speier stated in an interview. “It’s a reckless, selfish act.”
Inside the safe room, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) stood with some Democratic women who had been anxious that Republican lawmakers weren’t sporting face coverings. Blunt Rochester borrowed a stack of disposable masks and started approaching everybody, asking if they want a clear masks.
“I just felt like I can’t stand here mad, I have to try and help,” she stated in an interview.
When she approached the group of maskless Republicans and provided them masks — the second that was captured on video — their rebuffs didn’t have an effect on her.
“I just want to have impact. I don’t care if it looks pretty. My goal was not about shame, it was about help,” she stated. “And to the extent that, mind you, we all have to take responsibly for ourselves and each other, I just wanted to act instead of be in my anger.”
Ben Guarino and Alice Crites contributed to this report.
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