Report: Members of Congress fear COVID outbreak from germs left by MAGA mob -- and unmasked colleagues

I thought of this last night after the mob had dispersed and Congress was back in session. No members of the House and Senate were killed yesterday, thankfully.

But that doesn’t mean they’ve all escaped being killed by what happened. There’s still the small matter of a highly contagious plague that’s circulating among the population.

Which, by the way, is as bad as it’s ever been right now:

Congress went to some lengths last weekend when the new session was gaveled in to avoid having too many members on the floor at once. The less congested any indoor space is, the lower the risk of an outbreak. All of that went out the window yesterday when MAGA goons overran the building. In a crowd that big, it’s a cinch that dozens of them were infected. One of them, apparently, is even Internet-famous:

Tim Gionet, a white nationalist troll known as Baked Alaska, streamed more than 20 minutes of his breach inside building — wearing no mask at points — as terrified lawmakers were rushed to safety, according to Business Insider…

Gionet was also recorded maskless in the crowd outside the building — just days after he posted a video Monday about testing positive for COVID-19, The Daily Dot reported.

In the video, the far-right troll says he contracted the virus from a bar bouncer and plans to sue the establishment.

Scientists watching the scene play out on TV were mortified, and not just for the obvious “unprecedented civic travesty” reasons:

“It has all the elements of what we warn people about,” said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “People yelling and screaming, chanting, exerting themselves — all of those things provide opportunity for the virus to spread, and this virus takes those opportunities.”

Three distinct groups — Capitol Police, rioters and members of Congress — “were spending time indoors, without social distancing, for long periods of time,” said Dr. Joshua Barocas, an infectious diseases physician at Boston University. The melee likely was a super-spreader event, he added, “especially given the backdrop of the highly transmissible variants that are circulating.”

The idea that members of Congress may have been exposed, amid an already difficult transfer of power, particularly disturbed some scientists. “I am worried not only that it could it could lead to super spreading, but also super spreading to people who are elected officials,” said Dr. Tom Ingelsby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University.

But it wasn’t just the mob who presented a risk:

I can’t imagine coexisting with colleagues who refused to take the most minimal precautions against a deadly infection during an emergency created by a terror attack. There’s an armed gang rampaging through your building, you’re forced into a confined space so that you’re not killed, and even then the guy next to you won’t wear a piece of fabric over his nose and mouth for an hour to protect you from inhaling whatever germs are in his throat. “I get that they think they have their individual freedoms,” Debbie Dingell told the Times. “It’s a rule for a reason. It’s to protect the common good.” Dingell ended up sitting on the floor at one point in hopes of avoiding the corona cloud hovering a few feet above her.

And before you ask, yes, at least one congressman in the room was infected:

It’s unknown if LaTurner was one of the reps who refused to wear a mask but he was in the House chamber for most of the day per the Times.

Exit question: How many of these people have already been vaccinated? Pelosi’s gotten her first shot, which is good because the droogs were concentrated in her office for awhile and doubtless left a lot of virus behind. Not every member has been immunized, though. Some have refused on principle, believing they’re obliged to wait their turn along with the rest of the population. Now that they’ve been caught in the middle of a superspreader event, it’d be irresponsible for them not to get the vaccine immediately. Hopefully we can break a few chains of transmission quickly, before they take off.