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Capitol physician says lawmakers may have been exposed to Covid-19 during riot lockdown

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A hearing room where many members were sheltered featured inconsistent mask-wearing and social distancing.

Image: Congress Holds Joint Session To Ratify 2020 Presidential ElectionMembers of Congress evacuate the House Chamber as protesters try to enter during a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Jan. 10, 2021, 6:38 PM UTC

By Haley Talbot and Allan Smith

House members may have been exposed to Covid-19 when they went into hiding during Wednesday riots at the U.S. Capitol, Congress’ attending physician wrote in a letter to members and staffers Sunday.

“Many members of the House community were in protective isolation in [a] room located in a large committee hearing space,” Dr. Brian Monahan said, adding, “During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”

He advised members to keep up their “usual daily coronavirus risk reduction measures,” such as social distancing and symptoms checks. He said they should also get tested for the virus as a precaution.

Members of Congress were rushed into secure locations after supporters of President Donald Trump breached the Capitol building in an attempt to disrupt Congress’ tally of the Electoral College votes and confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

A hearing room where many members were sheltered featured inconsistent mask-wearing and social distancing. Videos posted to social media show several members of Congress without masks in the crowded room.

The Covid-19 pandemic is still raging across the U.S. even as vaccines begin to become available. So far, there have been more than 22 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and more than 373,000 deaths.

Over 50 members of Congress have tested positive for the virus, according to an NBC News count.

Haley Talbot

Haley Talbot is an associate producer in the NBC News Washington bureau.

Image: Allan SmithAllan Smith

Allan Smith is a political reporter for NBC News.

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