There was no way that hundreds of non-mask-wearing, COVID-19-denying insurrectionists would not leave a trail of virus transmission in the wake of their siege of the Capitol, and now, within a week of the president-sanctioned domestic terrorism, elected officials in D.C. are testing positive for the coronavirus.
But it was not the insurgents that generated the outbreak among the lawmakers so much as it was their unmasked Republican colleagues. Amid shelter-in-place procedures, Democratic leaders urged Republicans to wear face coverings, and their requests were met with refusal and some with laughter.
Several GOP officials, who were in the throes of chaos due to Donald Trump’s lies and misinformation, still maintained a strong sense of denial about the severity of transmission of the virus and chose not to protect themselves or the people around them.
Ignorance has consequences and sometimes causes harm to innocent bystanders.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington’s 7th congressional district became an innocent bystander harmed by the negligence of her colleagues on January 6. The Democrat, who is the first Indian-American woman to ever serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Asian American to represent the State of Washington at the federal level, tested positive for the virus after being tested at the advice of Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress.
Jayapal tweeted her outrage upon receiving news of her test results and placed the blame squarely on the recklessness of Republican politicians.
“I just received a positive COVID-19 test result after being locked down in a secured room at the Capitol where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one,” Jayapal wrote.
In a moment of indescribable pandemonium, Jayapal should have been able to rely on everyone around her to protect the very thing they were able to: their health. Instead, she has to battle COVID-19 in the aftermath of a highly traumatic event.
Another Democrat lawmaker, Rep. Bonnie Coleman of New Jersey, also received a positive coronavirus test post-insurrection. Since the pandemic began upwards of 50 lawmakers and 220 workers in Congress have either tested positive or are presumed to have been infected with the coronavirus.
The grim reality of COVID-19 has persisted in 2021, despite many people who resumed their regular way of life as if the virus has magically disappeared. Within the first week and a half of the new year, the U.S. has lost more than 22,000 lives to COVID. California alone accounts for 15 percent of that 22,000.
So as conversations around that fateful day at the Capitol continue, we will undoubtedly see the impact of virus transmission on all parties involved extend beyond the horror of the incident.
The sad part is the same caution-to-the-wind mentality that prompted rioters to siege the Capitol unmasked and Republican officials to make a mockery of masked Democrats, is the same mentality that has kept coroners busy in the U.S. since last spring.
About the Author
Donney Rose is a poet, essayist, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, advocate, and Chief Content Editor at The North Star. He believes in telling how it is and how it should be
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