N.J. Congresswoman Tests Positive for COVID After Being Locked Down with Colleagues Who 'Refused to Wear Masks'
New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman tested positive for the coronavirus, days after being in a protective lockdown with other lawmakers inside at the U.S. Capitol during the violent Jan. 6 riots that resulted in the deaths of five people.
On Monday, the New Jersey congresswoman, 75, announced she received a positive rapid antigen test result for COVID-19, according to a statement released by her office. "She believes she was exposed during protective isolation in the U.S. Capitol building as a result of insurrectionist riots," the statement read, which also added that a "number of members within the space ignored instructions to wear masks."
"I received a positive test result for COVID-19, and am home resting at this time. While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents," said Watson Coleman, who is isolating and awaiting the results of another PCR test.
According to her office's statement, the Democrat previously received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
"Following the events of Wednesday, including sheltering with several colleagues who refused to wear masks, I decided to take a Covid test. I have tested positive," Watson Coleman also tweeted on Monday.
On Sunday, Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, released a statement to officials who were on lockdown in the same room as someone who was infected with the coronavirus.
"On Wednesday, January 6, many members of the House community were in protective isolation in room located in a large committee hearing space," Monahan wrote in an email, according to The Washington Post. "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."
In his email, Monahan, who advised lawmakers who may have been exposed to monitor for symptoms, continue social distancing and wear a mask, also said: "Additionally, individuals should obtain an RT-PCR coronavirus test next week as a precaution."
Monahan did not specify how large the group of lawmakers was and who was in the room at the time of the lockdown.
The first dose of the vaccine, in addition to testing, was made available to members of Congress, the Supreme Court and Executive Branch agencies for the purposes of continuity of government operations.
Last Wednesday, President Donald Trump incited a violent riot on the U.S. Capitol where members of the House and Senate were certifying the Electoral College results and confirming the election victory of President-elect Joe Biden. Pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol and vandalized the building's halls and chambers, forcing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to shelter in offices and undisclosed areas for hours.
After the Capitol was deemed secure by the National Guard and local authorities, Congress reassembled to ratify the Electoral College results. Then, just hours later, newly elected U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
Over 100 U.S. lawmakers have had to quarantine after testing positive for the virus or coming into contact with someone who was diagnosed since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, according to GovTrack.
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