The violent riots at the US Capitol last week not only endangered the democracy, but also threatened the well-being of lawmakers by possibly exposing them to the novel coronavirus.
The riots, which led to the deaths of at least four people, might have spread the virus to the members of the house who were certifying Joe Biden's win in the recent presidential elections at the time, reports The Washington Times. The Office of the Attending Physician released a statement on Sunday noting that some members of Congress were on lockdown in the same room as someone who was infected with the coronavirus.
Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, wrote in an email on Sunday: "On Wednesday, January 6, 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."
Monahan added: "During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection."
The physician also advised lawmakers who were present in the lockdown to monitor their symptoms for COVID-19, continue social distancing, and wear a precautionary face mask. "Additionally, individuals should obtain an RT-PCR coronavirus test next week as a precaution," he said.
While the number of lawmakers who were present in the room has not been officially confirmed, two house aides revealed to the outlet that Monahan was referring to a room shown in a video posted by Punchbowl News on Friday. In the clip, Democratic Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester was seen offering face masks to Republican Representatives Andy Biggs, Michael Cloud, Markwayne Mullin, and Scott Perry, all of whom refused to put them on.
Just hours after the lawmakers reconvened to finish certifying Biden as the new POTUS, newly elected Representative Jake LaTurner announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19. A tweet from the Republican Party member's Twitter account read: "Congressman LaTurner took the test as part of Washington DC's travel guidelines that requires visitors be tested. He is not experiencing any symptoms at this time."
Another Republican Representative, Charles J. "Chuck" Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), also announced on Sunday that he has caught the virus from another infected Member of Congress, with whom he shares a residence in D.C. However, a spokesperson for the lawmaker clarified that he did not catch it during the Capitol riots while he was in the lockdown area.