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Representative Jayapal tests positive for COVID-19 following Capitol lockdown, blasts GOP colleagues who refused to wear masks

Representative Pramila Jayapal.
Representative Pramila Jayapal.Mandel Ngan/Associated Press

In an early morning tweet Tuesday, Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic representative from the state of Washington, revealed that she had tested positive for the coronavirus after sheltering in place with Republican colleagues who refused to wear a mask during a violent siege at the US Capitol.

Jayapal directly addressed the several GOP lawmakers she had shared a room with during the lockdown, writing that they had not “only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.”

She is now the second lawmaker to publicly state they have tested positive for the virus after being whisked to a secure location during the riot incited by President Trump, joining fellow Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman, a representative from New Jersey.


Watson Coleman also said she believes she was “exposed during protective isolation” when insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, noting that “a number of members within the space ignored instructions to wear masks.”

Dr. Brian Monahan, the Capitol’s attending physician, notified House lawmakers Sunday that they may have been exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.

Dozens of lawmakers sheltered together in the undisclosed location for hours. The infected party was not identified.

“Many members of the House community were in protective isolation in the large room — some for several hours,” Monahan wrote. “Individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”

Jayapal said in a statement that “too many Republicans” have failed to take the pandemic and the virus seriously, endangering “everyone around them” as a result.

“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 damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic — creating a superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack,” she said.


Per doctor’s orders, Jayapal said she is isolating but will continue to work to the best of her ability “because the deep urgency of our many crises is paramount.”

The statement noted that Jayapal already had been in quarantine since the attack, having taken it upon herself to do so out of fear and “foreseeing exactly what would occur given the number of maskless lawmakers sitting in the same room as her and her colleagues.”

“I share the outrage and anger of my constituents and those across this country who have watched Donald Trump fail to combat this raging pandemic and refuse to take care of Americans who are suffering, dying, and devastated,” she said. “Now, we have also watched him openly fuel and incite these insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol and our democracy on January 6 — so I will not rest until I do everything in my power to remove this President from office.”

Jayapal said she is calling for “serious fines” to be levied on every lawmaker who refuses to wear a mask while in the Capitol and for them to be “immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant of Arms” if they do not put a protective face covering on.

“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.”


Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.