WASHINGTON — A minimum of 9 Home Democrats have introduced within the final 5 days that they examined optimistic for the coronavirus, with greater than half of these circumstances rising after lawmakers attended a celebration retreat final week in Philadelphia.
It’s unclear what drove the wave of circumstances or the place the representatives had been contaminated. However members of the Home spent hours on the ground with out masks for votes that stretched late into the evening final Wednesday earlier than Democrats boarded buses to journey to their gathering.
The infections supplied a jarring reminder that, at the same time as prime officers search to pivot away from strict restrictions and encourage People to study to reside with the coronavirus, the pandemic rages on. The White Home introduced on Tuesday that Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, had examined optimistic for the virus.
The uptick was all of the extra hanging provided that Democrats, together with members of Congress and President Biden’s workforce, have typically been much more supportive of strict precautions in opposition to the virus, whereas Republicans have been vocal opponents of masks mandates and different measures, arguing that they’re extreme and an encroachment on private freedom.
Nonetheless, at the same time as reviews of the infections circulated in Washington and circumstances continued to spike globally, there was little indication that officers on the White Home or in Congress would reimpose a sequence of precautions that they’ve simply begun to roll again. It displays selections throughout the nation, the place leaders are dropping pandemic-era restrictions and mandates.
The White Home introduced on Tuesday that public excursions would resume in April, after being suspended firstly of the pandemic. On the different finish of Pennsylvania Avenue, senior lawmakers and officers on Capitol Hill are discussing plans to reopen the constructing to vacationers, in accordance with aides briefed on the discussions, after Home Democrats moved this month to elevate a masks mandate of their chamber.
Totally vaccinated lawmakers is not going to be required to put on a masks on Wednesday, as members of the Home and the Senate collect in a joint session for a digital handle by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. (Unvaccinated lawmakers must put on a masks, although it’s unclear how rigorously that can be enforced.)
Representatives Jared Golden of Maine, Joe Neguse of Colorado and Andy Kim of New Jersey introduced inside about an hour of each other on Tuesday morning that they’d examined optimistic for the coronavirus. Mr. Neguse attended the retreat together with 4 others who reported testing optimistic in current days: Representatives Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, Zoe Lofgren of California, Kim Schrier of Washington and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.
Two different Home Democrats, Representatives Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia and Peter Welch of Vermont, additionally mentioned they examined optimistic on Friday and Monday, respectively. They weren’t current on the retreat, in accordance with an individual in attendance who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate attendance on the non-public gathering.
Representatives, their employees members and their households had been required to take P.C.R. or speedy antigen assessments earlier than the occasion, and attendees had been required to take speedy assessments of their lodge rooms on Thursday and Friday.
Mr. Biden delivered an in-person speech on the retreat on Friday. The White Home press secretary, Jen Psaki, mentioned on Tuesday that as a result of all representatives on the retreat had been vaccinated, a change within the president’s habits wouldn’t be warranted in accordance with C.D.C. tips. She reiterated that Mr. Biden acquired a detrimental check consequence on Sunday.
Many members of the Home had been additionally collectively on the ground late Wednesday evening to cross a significant spending invoice earlier than they departed for Philadelphia, although it’s unclear which members had been bodily current as a result of distant voting was allowed. Many of the Democrats who examined optimistic emphasised that they had been vaccinated, and mentioned it was a reminder that the pandemic was not but over.
“I caught COVID on 2yr anniversary of pandemic,” Mr. Kim wrote on Twitter. “Sure I really feel depressing. Wakened in center of evening with fever, however I’m not scared like I might have been yr or 2 in the past. That doesn’t imply I’m not anxious.”
The outbreak amongst Home Democrats comes amid rising considerations a few surge in coronavirus circumstances in elements of Europe and Asia, in addition to warnings from public well being consultants that america may see a summer time or fall surge.
The Democrats had been joined on Tuesday by a Republican colleague, Consultant Fred Upton of Michigan, who said on Twitter that he was experiencing mild symptoms after a “routine check” got here again optimistic.
Annie Karni contributed reporting.
Supply: NY Times