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Tags: capitol | masks | omicron | house | senate

Better Masks to Fight COVID Required at Capitol

face covering required sign hangs in capitol
(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 03 January 2022 01:52 PM EST

The U.S. Capitol's attending physician Monday strongly urged members to conduct business virtually and announced updated mask requirements inside the building.

Rear Adm. Brian Patrick Monahan announced the update as a result of the national COVID-19 surge due largely to the omicron variant.

Monahan said blue surgical masks, cloth face masks, and gaiter masks must be replaced by the more protective KN95 or N95 masks.

"A significant measure to reduce disease spread now includes wearing a properly fitted, medical grade, filtration mask [N95 or KN95] when in crowded outdoor events or when in indoor spaces or when another person is present," Monahan said in a statement tweeted by Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman.  

"Compliance with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] guidance regarding mask-wearing, regardless of vaccination status, is also essential in an employer’s efforts to ensure compliance with applicable workplace safety and health standards."

Monahan said the Capitol test center’s seven-day positivity rate had risen from 1% to 13%, The Washington Post reported.

He added that a limited sampling from Dec. 15 found that most cases at the Capitol were breakthrough infections, with the omicron variant representing about 61% and the delta variant about 38% of the positive cases.

"Breakthrough infections among Members and staff have not led to hospitalizations, serious complications, or deaths, attesting to the value of coronavirus vaccinations," Monahan wrote to members.

Monahan also said congressional offices, committees, and agencies should "immediately review their operations to adopt a maximal telework posture to reduce in-person meetings and in-officer activities to the maximum extent possible."

"Capitol food vendors and dining facilities will emphasize carry-out deliver, grab-and-go type food options to reduce assemblies," he added.

Democrat Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser on Dec. 20 reimposed the city’s indoor mask mandate and announced a stricter vaccination mandate for D.C. government workers, The Washington Post reported.

The city again legally requires masks in most indoor public places, such as gyms, churches, and grocery stores.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., first introduced the House floor mask mandate in July 2020 after many Republicans refused to wear one, and in January 2021 House Democrats voted to make the mandate enforceable by fines, according to The Hill.

The mask mandate was taken away in June but was then brought back a month later because of the surge in coronavirus cases brought on by the delta variant.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has received four more fines from the House Ethics Committee for refusing to wear her mask on the House floor on separate occasions in September.

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US
The U.S. Capitol's attending physician Monday strongly urged members to conduct business virtually and announced updated mask requirements inside the building. Rear Adm. Brian Patrick Monahan...
capitol, masks, omicron, house, senate
428
2022-52-03
Monday, 03 January 2022 01:52 PM
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