On Monday, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), shared via her Twitter account that she has tested positive for COVID-19. She said the positive test came after sheltering among colleagues who refused to wear masks last Wednesday during the breach of the Capitol. Coleman, a 75-year-old cancer survivor who is at the beginning of her third term in Congress, believes the incident, causing her to be in close quarters indoors with those maskless colleagues, was the origin of her exposure to the virus.
In a series of tweets, Coleman informed the world that after sheltering for safety during the storming of the Capitol, she “decided to take a Covid test” due to her being in a confined space with individuals who declined to protect themselves and others by wearing masks.
Even though she initially reported feeling mild symptoms and remaining “in good spirits,” later in the day, Coleman stated that she was on her way to the hospital per her doctor’s advice, “for monoclonal antibody treatment.”
While Coleman herself didn’t specify that those who exposed her to COVID were Republicans, a video circling the Internet shows Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt (DE) offering Republican representatives Marjorie Taylor Green (GA), Markwayne Mullin (OK), and Andy Biggs (AZ) masks for protection while sheltering, which they declined.
In a statement, Blunt said her “goal” in offering them masks was to prioritize safety and quell her fear of the sheltering later proving itself as being a “super spreader event.” Although she was “disappointed” in her fellow U.S. Representatives who decided not to wear masks, she said that she was “encouraged by those who did.”
Unfortunately, it seems as though Blunt’s fears weren’t far-fetched. After Rep. Coleman announced she tested positive yesterday, at nearly 1 a.m., Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA) also announced she “received a positive COVID-19 test.”
In her statement, Jayapal directly called out the Republicans who “cruelly” and “recklessly” endangered others while mocking those who were taking the precaution of wearing a mask seriously.
Even though only two congresswomen and reportedly one congressman have tested positive for COVID-19 so far after the sheltering that occurred during the Capitol riots, it’s unfortunate that amidst an already dangerous situation, their Republican counterparts chose to make it more dangerous by refusing to wear masks. With the country being in turmoil right now, this is when we need our representatives the most, and need them healthy enough to make the right decisions that will help our country get back on track. At this point, almost a year into the pandemic, it’s scary to think that wearing masks is still up for debate, especially at the highest levels of office.