In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Democratic Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman—one of three Congresspeople to be diagnosed with covid-19 in recent days—detailed the fear she experienced during the attempted coup last Wednesday. But for the 75-year-old Coleman, who also recently recovered from lung cancer, the siege of the Capitol was only one of the threats she faced that day. The other, her Republican colleagues’ refusal to wear masks, is how Coleman believes she was exposed to covid-19 in the first place.
I am angry that after I spent months carefully isolating myself, a single chaotic day likely got me sick. I am angry that several of our nation’s leaders were unwilling to deal with the small annoyance of a mask for a few hours. I am angry that the attack on the Capitol and my subsequent illness have the same cause: my Republican colleagues’ inability to accept facts.
When I left for Washington last week, it was my first trip there in several months. I had a list of things to accomplish, including getting my picture taken for the card I use when voting on the House floor. For the past two years, I appeared on that card completely bald as a result of the chemotherapy I underwent to eliminate the cancer in my right lung. It was because of that preexisting condition that I relied so heavily on the proxy voting the House agreed to last year, when we first began to understand the danger of covid-19.
I was nervous about spending a week among so many people who regularly flout social distancing and mask guidelines, but I could not have imagined the horror of what happened on Jan. 6.
Rep. Coleman continued, describing the attempts of her and her staff to find safety amidst the chaos and violence of the mob.
Everyone knows what happened next: A mob broke through windows and doors and beat a U.S. Capitol Police officer, then went on a rampage. Members and staff took cover wherever we could, ducking into offices throughout the building, then were told to move to a safer holding location.
I use “safer” because, while we might have been protected from the insurrectionists, we were not safe from the callousness of members of Congress who, having encouraged the sentiments that inspired the riot, now ignored requests to wear masks.
Read the full opinion piece here.