Rep. Speier urges McCarthy to enforce mask rule following congresswoman's COVID diagnosis
WASHINGTON - Following New Jersey Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman's COVID-19 diagnosis. Rep. Jackier Speier, from the State of California, on Monday wrote a letter asking the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to enforce mask rules and requirements for his Republican colleagues.
Coleman, a 75-year-old Democrat, is a cancer survivor and believes she was exposed to the virus while the U.S. Capitol was under lockdown last week.
Many Republican lawmakers, including the Trump ally and QAnon conspiracy theory-aligned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, refused to wear a mask during that incident.
In her letter, Speier told McCarthy, "numerous Republican members of Congress jeered, smirked and openly ridiculed requests and an offer of face masks," in the secure location where lawmakers were forced to evacuate.
Late on Monday, Congresswoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal, of Washington said she had just received a positive COVID test and was in the same conditions as Coleman during the lockdown.
"Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one," Jayapal wrote on Twitter. "Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy."
Jayapal called for anyone who refuses to abide by the rule to be removed from the House floor by the Sergeant at Arms. She said she is isolated, but will continue her work to the best of her ability.
Read Rep. Jayapal's full statement here.
On the day of the violent pro-Trump mob attack, Congresswoman Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) told CBS News that she expected many members of Congress to contract COVID because of the crowded conditions lawmakers were in that day during the lockdown. She said she also noticed congress members not wearing masks and refusing to do so.
Speier said not wearing a mask is a clear violation of the House Sergeant at Arms requirements.
"Hundreds of Members were forced to shelter in close proximity to one another for hours on end in rooms with less than ideal ventilation -- setting the stage for a textbook super-spreader event," Speier wrote.
Coleman said she is resting at home and is experiencing mild cold-like symptoms.
A doctor who cares for congressional members has now urged other members who were in the room with Coleman to get tested for coronavirus.
Speier called the GOP caucus members' inability to follow medical guidelines and to properly wear a mask a matter of life or death.
She added that GOP staffers follow the congress members' lead by not wearing masks and cited reports that they have been bullied into not following medical advice of the House physician and the Trump administration's Department of Health and Human Services.