75-year-old U.S. Lawmaker Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Being Locked Down to Avoid Mob Attacking the U.S. Capitol

A 75-year-old U.S. lawmaker on Monday said she had tested positive for COVID-19 after being locked down to avoid a mob attacking the U.S. Capitol last week, saying she believed she was exposed while sheltering in place with maskless colleagues.

U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement that a rapid test result came back positive and that she was awaiting the results of a more comprehensive test, noting that she had already received the first shot of the two-dose coronavirus vaccine.

Congress’ attending physician said lawmakers who hid together for hours in a closed room to avoid Wednesday’s mob may have been exposed to the coronavirus by an infected person. Some 200 people, including scores of House members, sheltered for hours in a closed room where a number of Republicans did not wear masks.

“She believes she was exposed during protective isolation in the U.S. Capitol building as a result of insurrectionist riots,” Watson Coleman’s office said in a statement.

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, who has made COVID-19 pandemic a top priority, told reporters he was appalled that Republican lawmakers refused to wear masks while hunkered down even when others passed them out: “It’s not a political issue. It’s an issue of public safety.”