A Riot Amid a Pandemic: Did the Virus, Too, Storm the Capitol?

Three different groups – Capitol Police, rioters, and members of Congress – “spent long periods of time indoors without social distancing,” said Dr. Joshua Barocas, an infectious disease doctor at Boston University. The hand-to-hand combat was likely a super-spreader event, he added, “especially given the highly transferable variants that are in circulation.”

Dr. Barocas was referring to a highly contagious new variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in the UK. It was discovered in several US states but may have spread throughout the country, making events like the Capitol riot even riskier, he said.

The idea that members of Congress may have been exposed during an already difficult transfer of power particularly worried some scholars. “I’m not only concerned that this could lead to super-spread, but also to super-spread in people who are elected as elected officials,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

And infected members of Congress and law enforcement agencies could have spread the virus among themselves if they had protected themselves from the violence, he noted.

The transition of the president


Jan. 8, 2021, 12:48 AM ET

Kansas Republican Jake LaTurner announced on Twitter early Thursday morning that he had tested positive for the virus. Mr. LaTurner was in the chamber at the monastery with fellow Congressmen for much of the day.

At least a dozen of the roughly 400 lawmakers and staff huddled in a committee room refused to wear masks even after they were offered one or did not wear them properly under their chin, said Susan Wild, Democrat Representative of Pennsylvania.

They gathered in a committee room that quickly overcrowded and made social distancing impossible, she said. Some of the lawmakers were exposed and some shouted, “Tensions were high and people were yelling at each other.”

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