CHICAGO — U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider announced Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 after being confined with members of Congress who refused to wear masks during the violent pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week.
In his statement, the Illinois Democrat referenced a video from the new Washington-based news outlet Punchbowl News that showed Republican members of Congress refusing requests to wear a mask as a woman went around the room handing them out.
“Last Wednesday, after narrowly escaping a violent mob incited by the president of the United States to attack the Capitol and its occupants, I was forced to spend several hours in a secure but confined location with dozens of other members of Congress. Several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask, as demonstrated in video from Punchbowl News, even when politely asked by their colleagues,” Schneider said. “Today, I am now in strict isolation worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff.”
Schneider, a Democrat from north suburban Deerfield, is at least the third member of the House to test positive since the violent pro-Trump mob descended on the Capitol building. Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., also have tested positive for the coronavirus. Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old cancer survivor.
“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them,” Jayapal said in a statement. “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.”
Jayapal has called for “serious fines to be immediately levied on every single member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol.”
“Wearing a mask is not a political statement, it is public health guidance, common courtesy, and simply what should be expected of all decent people. We can no longer tolerate members coming to the floor or gathering in the halls of Congress without doing the bare minimum to protect those around them,” Schneider said. “Those that flout public health guidance should be sanctioned and immediately removed from the House floor by the Sergeant at Arms for their reckless endangerment of their colleagues.”
Dozens of lawmakers were rushed to a secure location once the pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol, some of them huddled there for hours. Over the weekend, all lawmakers were notified of potential exposure to the virus and were urged to be tested. Schneider said he received a positive test Tuesday morning after being tested on Monday at the advice of the House attending physician.
“Since driving home to Deerfield from Washington, I have remained isolated as much as possible from my wife in our house and have not experienced other close contacts since my exposure on Wednesday,” Schneider said. “This week, the House is doing critical work to protect our national security, our democracy, and our Constitution, moving to remove the President from office after he incited this angry mob of domestic terrorists. I regret that I must take these votes by proxy.”
Bill Ruthhart, Chicago Tribune