CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, of Illinois, became the third Democratic lawmaker to test positive for COVID after sheltering in place with fellow lawmakers during last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Unfortunately, I received a positive COVID-19 test this morning following being tested yesterday on the advice of the House Attending Physician,” Schneider said during a virtual press conference Tuesday afternoon from his home in Deerfield, where he said he will be isolating in his basement for at least 10 days on the advice of his doctor.
Schneider was among a group of lawmakers who were locked down in a secured room at the Capitol after a mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed the building, halting a joint session of Congress to count electoral votes and forcing lawmakers into hiding until the building was secure.
Two other lawmakers, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, of Washington, and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, of New Jersey, also have tested positive for coronavirus since the lockdown. Schneider and his two Democratic colleagues have blamed Republican lawmakers who were in the room with them for refusing to wear masks while locked down together for hours in close quarters.
“Last Wednesday, after narrowly escaping a violent mob incited by the President of the United States to attack the Capitol and its occupants, I was forced to spend several hours in a secure but confined location with dozens of other Members of Congress. Several Republican lawmakers in the room adamantly refused to wear a mask, as demonstrated in video we shared from Punchbowl News, even when politely asked by their colleagues,” Schneider said. ““Today, I am now in strict isolation – you can see that I’m in my basement – worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff.”
Schneider said he drove home from Washington, D.C. on Friday and got a rapid COVID-19 test on Saturday. That test came back negative, but after the Capitol’s attending physician notified all lawmakers Sunday of the potential virus exposure during the lockdown, Schneider got a PCR test on Monday, which came back positive.
Schneider said his wife is in the high-risk category for COVID-19 and will be tested for the virus on Thursday. The congressman also said he received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 4, but isn’t sure if he’ll be able to get the second dose on Jan. 25 now that he’s tested positive for the virus.
Although he said he can’t be certain he was infected during the Capitol attack. Schneider said the fact three members of Congress who were in the same room during the lockdown have now tested positive makes it likely that’s where they all caught the virus.
“I can’t blame any one person, but I can condemn the act of those people who refused to put on their mask, and just out of courtesy try to keep everyone around them safe, or as safe as possible,” he said.
Schneider declined to name any specific members of Congress who refused to wear masks while they were locked down together, saying some of his fellow lawmakers he saw without masks might have taken them off only briefly, though he said the video clearly shows some outright refusing to put them on when asked to do so.
“Wearing a mask is not a political statement, it is public health guidance, common courtesy, and simply what should be expected of all decent people,” Schneider said.
The congressman said members of Congress who refuse to wear masks while on the House floor or in the halls of the Capitol should be sanctioned and removed from the House floor for “reckless endangerment” of their fellow lawmakers and their staffs.
“We can no longer tolerate Members coming to the floor or gathering in the halls of Congress without doing the bare minimum to protect those around them,”
Schneider said he and his Democratic colleagues in Congress have been asking their Republican counterparts for months to wear masks at the Capitol to limit the spread of the virus.
“I don’t know how it came to be that masks are a political statement. Masks are just common decency and common sense,” he said. “These people refuse to wear masks out of, I struggle for the word. it’s more than arrogance, it’s more than contempt, it is a desire to cause injury to others is the only way we can describe it.”
The congressman said during the attack on the Capitol and the subsequent lockdown, he wasn’t afraid for his own safety, praising the U.S. Capitol Police for putting their lives on the line to protect lawmakers and their staffs.
“I was always confident we were going to get out,” Schneider said. “My concern … was I think far more for the country than for my own personal safety. … What is happening to our country?”
“Last Wednesday we had an attack on our nation. It came from within, but the response should be no different, I believe, than the unity that came after 9/11 or other attacks on our nation,” he added.
Schneider also said he agrees with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that the FBI should place any person identified as one of the Capitol rioters on the no-fly list preventing them from boarding commercial flights.
“I think it should be by law. These are domestic terrorists, so absolutely,” he said.
Schneider said, while he is isolated at home, he will vote by proxy on a resolution calling for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment against President Donald Trump to remove him from office.
“This week, the House is doing critical work to protect our national security, our democracy, and our Constitution, moving to remove the President from office after he incited this angry mob of domestic terrorists. I regret that I will be taking my votes by proxy,” Schneider said.
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