After announcing this week that she had tested positive for the coronavirus, Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) lashed out at her Republican colleagues, blaming them for contracting the virus.
Questions were later raised about Jayapal's criticisms after video surfaced showing her without a mask. However, Jayapal quickly explained why she briefly went without her face mask.
What did Jayapal say?
According to Jayapal, she contracted COVID-19 during the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol last week because she was locked in a secure room where "numerous Republican lawmakers recklessly refused to wear masks."
The result, Jayapal said in a statement, was that Republicans had created "a superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack."
"Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them. 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 said.
The Washington Democrat explained that she will seek repercussions for those lawmakers who continue to refuse to wear a face covering, including fines and removal from the House floor.
I am also calling for serious fines to be immediately levied on every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol. Additionally, any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms. This is not a joke. 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.
What did the video show?
The video showed Jayapal without a face covering on Jan. 6 as she hunkered down with other lawmakers in the House gallery as violent protesters attempted to breach the House chamber.
Video shows members of Congress taking cover in House gallery www.youtube.com
"They told us to take off our masks to put on the gas masks that were under our seats," Jayapal explained.
Indeed, the video was clearly taken before Jayapal had relocated to the secure area where security officials kept lawmakers during the riot. And it was that at location where she believes she contracted COVID-19 from Republican lawmakers who refused to wear a face covering.
"I'm quarantining now because I am convinced that where we ended up, in the secured room — where there were over 100 people and many were Republicans not wearing masks — was a superspreader event," Jayapal told The Cut.
Jayapal was not the only Democratic lawmaker to contract COVID-19 while locked down during the riots.