The attending physician to members of Congress warned lawmakers and staffers they should get tested for COVID-19 because they may have been exposed to the virus while they were sheltering in place as a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. “On Wednesday January 6, many members of the House community were in protective isolation in room located in a large committee hearing space,” Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, wrote in an email that was sent to members of Congress on Sunday morning. “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.”
Although Monahan didn’t provide many details in his email, two House aides confirm to the Washington Post that he was referring to a room where many lawmakers were taken during the riot. A video published by Punchbowl News Friday that quickly went viral showed several Republicans not wearing masks in the packed room and even refusing them when they were offered by Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. The Republicans who refused masks included Reps. Andy Biggs from Arizona, Michael Cloud from Texas, Markwayne Mullin from Oklahoma and Scott Perry from Pennsylvania. “My goal, in the midst of what I feared was a super spreader event, was to make the room at least a little safer,” Rochester tweeted.
Monahan advised all the lawmakers who could have been exposed to monitor for symptoms and to obtain a COVID-19 test next week “as a precaution.” News of the possible exposure comes amid warnings from several experts that the riot could turn into a superspreader event. “I do think you have to anticipate that this is another surge event. You had largely unmasked individuals in a non-distanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told McClatchy on Friday. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, also said on CBS News’ Face the Nation that “there’s going to be chains of transmission that come out of that kind of mass gathering.”
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