Pelosi Orders Masks after Congressman Tests Positive for Coronavirus
By Staff, Agencies
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mandated masks on the floor of the chamber on Wednesday after a fellow congressman tested positive for the coronavirus.
"The chair expects all members and staff to adhere to the requirement as a sign of respect for the health, safety and well-being of others present in the chamber," Pelosi said. Representatives without a mask on would be in "serious breach of decorum" and could be removed from the hall.
This comes hours after Louie Gohmert, a Republican representative from Texas’ first district, tested positive for coronavirus ahead of a trip to his home state with President Donald Trump, which prevented the lawmaker from boarding Air Force One.
On Monday, National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien tested positive for COVID-19, although the White House stressed both the president and vice president were unaffected.
Gohmert was seen without a mask speaking to Attorney General William Barr during a hearing that featured Barr's testimony on Tuesday.
“So I'm asymptomatic,” he said. “I don't have any of the symptoms that are listed as part of COVID-19, but apparently I have the Wuhan virus."
Numbers are still high in new cases and deaths across the US, the hardest-hit country in the world, with Johns Hopkins University logging 1,267 fatalities on Wednesday.
"Wear a damn mask," said Virginia's Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat.
"I don't know who needs to hear this, but if you're a Member of Congress who refuses to wear a mask on Capitol Hill, you're not only putting your colleagues at risk – you're endangering the staff who works here, including many of my constituents.”