Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic early last year, the deadly highly-infectious virus has impacted the working of congress. The coronavirus has already claimed the lives of a sitting Congressman (Texas Republican Rep. Ron Wright), a member-elect (Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow), and an aide to a Florida House member.
Several members of Congress have either contracted the coronavirus or been compelled to self-isolate after being exposed to it. The US government website has been keeping a track of lawmakers and workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Their records show that 126 representatives and senators have isolated because of having COVID-19, self-quarantined after exposure, or took other action or no action after exposure. To date, 71 representatives and senators have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Their diagnosis followed testing and displaying symptoms.
Outbreaks that occurred in clusters were observed to have parallels with certain events. For instance, after the violent insurrection and siege on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Congress members were forced to huddle together for hours as the mob raged through the building. At the time, some House Republicans refused to put on masks. After the ordeal, Democratic Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey and Brad Schneider of Illinois, tested positive for the coronavirus.
January was also the worst month for coronavirus infections in the Capitol. A previous outbreak happened in September 2020, after a party held in the White House Rose garden. The party had been thrown in honor of Amy Coney Barrett, the then President’s Supreme Court Justice nominee. After the event, Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, the President, and the First Lady all tested positive.
New mask mandates at the Capitol now require all lawmakers to wear a mask. Under these guidelines, Capitol Police can remove members of Congress from the building if they are not wearing masks. Government trackers have kept records of each congress member who has self-quarantined/isolated, to reflect their inability to participate in any legislative processes.