New Congress begins under shadow of coronavirus

But with the pandemic still surging across the nation, Sunday’s stately rituals will have none of the usual pomp and circumstance. No hallways teeming with well-dressed relatives or celebratory luncheons hosted by the newly installed party leaders.

Instead, most lawmakers will be sworn in without the company of a single guest in order to reduce coronavirus exposure, and have been told to remain in their offices except during votes. The Capitol physician has strongly warned against “gatherings of any kind.”

Even Pelosi’s election — for what could be her final turn with the gavel — will lack the usual theatrics of a vote to confirm the next speaker. The vote itself is expected to take between three to four hours as lawmakers shuffle through the chamber in small groups to minimize their risks to the virus.