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WA Rep. Jayapal tests positive for COVID, blames maskless GOP colleagues during Capitol siege

House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Pramila Jayapal. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal revealed Monday that she has tested positive for COVID-19.

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Rep. Jayapal laid the blame at the feet of Republican lawmakers who “recklessly refused to wear masks” while members of Congress were locked down in a secure room during last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol.

Over 100 representatives were together in that room for hours, and were later warned by Congressional attending physician Dr. Brian Monahan that they might have “been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus.”

According to Jayapal, “several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.”

“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them. 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 mask in a crowded room during a pandemic,” she said in a written release.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) also received news of a positive COVID test on Monday, who echoed her Democratic colleague’s sentiments.

“It angers me when (Republicans in Congress) refuse to adhere to the directions about keeping their masks on,” she told the New York Times. “It comes off to me as arrogance and defiance. And you can be both, but not at the expense of someone else.”

A third member of Congress, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), reported a positive test Wednesday morning.

Rep. Jayapal is calling for “serious fines to be immediately levied” on lawmakers who refused to wear masks during last Wednesday’s lockdown at the Capitol, and for anyone refusing to wear a mask when in session to “be immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

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“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.”

Jayapal had been self-isolating since last Wednesday over concerns she had been exposed to the virus. She had received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 4, which was likely “too recently for it to have conferred protection on Jan. 6th,” UW biology professor Carl Bergstrom noted.

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