WASHINGTON — Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., said Saturday he tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the second lawmaker this week to announce they had contracted the virus.
Grijalva said in a statement that he did not have any symptoms and felt fine. The congressman said he would self-quarantine at the recommendation of the Capitol’s attending physician.
On Wednesday, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, who has refused to wear a mask around the Capitol, tested positive for the virus shortly before he was expected to travel with President Donald Trump to Texas.
Grijalva had attended a a hearing of the Natural Resources Committee with Gohmert on Tuesday. During the hearing Gohmert was at times seen without a face covering, sitting in close proximity to other lawmakers including Grijalva.
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“While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some Members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously,” Grijalva said in his statement, which did not mention Gohmert by name.
“Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff, and their families,” Grijalva continued.
News that Gohmert had become infected with the coronavirus sent lawmakers scrambling to account for his whereabouts in the Capitol in the days leading up to his positive test. It also reignited conversations about whether lawmakers, many of whom travel to Washington from all around the country and tend to be in vulnerable age groups, were taking appropriate precautions to prevent an outbreak on Capitol Hill.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, announced Wednesday that she would require all members to wear masks on the floor.
“Members and staff will be required to wear masks at all times in the hall of the House. Except that members may remove their masks, temporarily, when recognized,” Pelosi said, adding that refusal to do so would be considered a “serious breach of decorum.”
Grijalva praised Pelosi’s decision Saturday, writing that he hoped the mask mandate would “keep members and staff safe from those looking to score quick political points. Stopping the spread of a deadly virus should not be a partisan issue.”
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who self-quarantined after she sat next to Gohmert on a flight from Texas on Sunday evening, said she has since tested negative. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., said on Twitter that he had dinner with Gohmert on Tuesday and would self-quarantine.
Congress declined the White House’s offer earlier this year to provide lawmakers with rapid coronavirus testing capabilities.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Pelosi still oppose bringing rapid testing to the Capitol, but they are facing increased bipartisan pushback against their decision after recent positive cases among lawmakers.
Lauren Egan is a reporter for NBC News based in Washington.
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