Jake Johnson Pandemic

Rep. Jayapal Tests Positive for COVID, Demands GOP Accountability

The Washington Democrat accused Republican lawmakers of "creating a superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack."
[Edward Kimmel / CC BY-SA 2.0]

By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal late Monday castigated Republican lawmakers for their life-threatening refusal to wear face coverings and demanded that they be held to account after the Washington Democrat tested positive for Covid-19, a diagnosis that came after she was forced to hide in a room with GOP colleagues who declined to wear masks as a violent pro-Trump mob rampaged through the U.S. Capitol last week.

In a furious statement, Jayapal slammed Republican lawmakers for “cruelly and selfishly” refusing to “take the bare minimum Covid-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating 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,” said the Washington Democrat, who was holed up for hours in a secured room with more than 100 people during the mob attack.

Jayapal pointed to video footage published by Punchbowl News showing Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Michael Cloud (Texas), and others in the room rejecting surgical masks offered by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).

Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, called for “serious fines to be immediately levied on every single member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol” and said that any lawmaker who declines to put on a face covering “should be immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

“This is not a joke,” said Jayapal. “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.”

Jayapal’s positive coronavirus test came hours after Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a 75-year-old cancer survivor, announced her Covid-19 diagnosis Monday and said she believes she was exposed “during protective isolation in the U.S. Capitol building as a result of insurrectionist riots.”

“While I feel OK, on my doctor’s advice I’m on my way to a local hospital for monoclonal antibody treatment,” Coleman tweeted late Monday afternoon. “I thank you for the outpouring of supportive messages. The love you’ve sent has been overwhelming. Please, wear a mask and social distance.”

Jayapal, who told The Cut last week that she decided to quarantine following the Capitol lockdown out of fear of a superspreader event, was among those who voiced outrage in response to news of Coleman’s positive test, tweeting that “we must hold GOP to the rules on the floor and in the Capitol.”

“If they want to play Roulette with their own lives, go for it,” Jayapal said. “But no one should be allowed on the floor or in rooms in violation of our rules and public health. We are at risk because of them. Follow the rules or leave.”

Jake Johnson

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @johnsonjakep


  1. Aw c’mon, how is the “healing” supposed to begin with this kind of talk? Listen to Cracker Joe– let him be your lodestar, Rep. Jayapal. And Joe says we need a strong Republican Party. That’s the Party the Dem leadership will listen to; but you? They have nothing but contempt for you.

  2. “We are at risk because of them. Follow the rules or leave.”

    I have nothing but contempt for what those republicans did at the Capitol, but how could the representatives possibly have contracted Covid?

    Haven’t they taken the, virtually untested, miracle vaccine they’re forcing on everyone else?

    Surely any member of Congress who wanted the vaccine could have had it weeks ago.

    Are they just irresponsible and did not get it yet?

    Or perhaps, they secretly think the cure is worse than the disease?

    Or, did they got the vaccine and it actually doesn’t work?

    1. Valid questions, but clearly also not necessarily asked in good faith….

      These people travel a lot, they have to get two injections, the vaccines only started being distributed to even leaders in the past few weeks, there are hundreds of Congresspeople…

      I am curious, too, about this formulation of being “forced” to take this “miracle vaccine.” Is this the notion that if a school won’t allow your child to come to school unvaccinated, that is forced? That if you are in a elder facility and want to stay there, that you are being forced? Coerced might be more accurate…

      As for calling it a miracle, are you providing evidence that these vaccines don’t work? Or is the mocking tone just a stance based on blanket mistrust of all pharmaceutical products in general and vaccines in particular?

      Non-sarcastic question of my own: I am curious if the venn diagram overlay cluster of the left and those skeptical of all science/med funded by the usual suspects are working to create an alternative of open-source, community-based labs that will go beyond suggesting we rely entirely on herbs and organic non-gmo foodstuffs.

      If one decides they can’t trust any of the for-profit/nonprofit/university-based scientists/labs supported by the neoliberal structures, are they to just throw up their hands and rely solely on traditional healing and preventative health?

  3. I have great respect for Mr. Scheer and other journalists on this site.

    Yes, my questions were not in good faith. Admittedly, I am cynical.

    Hate to fall back on “I’m out of my league here” but I am. Wondering why I am even responding.

    I’m trying to think of a way to reply without offense. Which apparently, I have done?

    I’m not going to reply to you point by point, but I do have serious questions about the media’s Covid narrative. Everyone should. Shouldn’t they?

    Given the undeniable, unbelievable, history of deception and criminality on the part of our government, corporations, institutions and corporations; given the lack of oversight and accountability; given the lack of an independent media, shouldn’t we question their actions and intentions on something as significant,to our society, as the lockdowns and rushed through vaccines?

    Shouldn’t we, at least, expect our “leaders” to come forward, and be the first to stand in line, at the local pharmacy, and with transparency proclaim they have rolled up their sleeves and have been injected with a, clearly, inadequately tested vaccine they expect the rest of us to take?

    It saddens me to write this. I deeply wish there were more reasons to trust in our government, our leaders and our institutions.

    I sincerely appreciate the reply.
    All the best to you.

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