House Democrats promote ignorance about COVID masks, just to blame Republicans

House Democrats are trying to make hay from the siege of the Capitol, claiming that two House Democrats who got chased around by rioters on Jan. 6 caught COVID from unmasked Republicans in a safe room during the chaotic event.  Never mind the unmasked rioters, or the Capitol Police, or the reporters, or anyone else on the scene, many of whom had no masks as well; it was definitely those bad unmasked Republicans.

According to The Hill:

A growing number of lawmakers are testing positive for COVID-19 after being forced to crowd together in a secure space during Wednesday's mob attack on the Capitol, confirming fears that the insurrection created conditions for a virus superspreader event.

At least three House members have tested positive in the past 24 hours: Democratic Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) and Brad Schneider (Ill.). All were in the secure space where security officials ushered hundreds of lawmakers to shelter in place as rioters in support of President Trump rampaged the Capitol.

Lawmakers are revealing their diagnoses voluntarily; it's not yet clear who else in the room had COVID-19 or has since tested positive after being exposed.

Democrats are furious that several House Republicans in the room were not wearing masks, in violation of rules in place since July requiring masks on the House floor and in surrounding office buildings.

While it's tragic that anyone elderly or otherwise catches COVID, to claim that it was all the doing of Republicans not wearing masks in the room is hardly science. 

Here's the reality for Democrats:

Masks are no guarantee someone won't catch COVID.  The coronavirus is all over now, and even people with masks can catch it and spread it.  It's possible, but not certain, that the three congressmembers did.  Masks help, and yes, masks should be worn, because they reduce the spread significantly, but they are far from a guarantee.  Even the WHO says as much in its information sheet here.  By all accounts, the non-medical-grade masks the general public wears can slow but not entirely stop the spread of COVID.

I'll give an example from real life: as I write this, my elderly mother, in the next room from me sleeping to the soft thump of oxygen tanks, is recovering from COVID.  She spent days in the hospital, and now she is at home healing.

She rarely went out, and when she did, she always — always — wore a mask, as well as a clear face cover.  I did the errands for the house, but I tested negative for COVID — not low-symptom positive, but completely negative, so it's very unlikely she caught it from me.  Nobody can catch chickenpox from someone who doesn't have chickenpox, and while low-symptom people positive for COVID can spread it, as far as I can tell, someone who's completely uninfected cannot do the same, not even with surface transmission, which is another moot point because I always washed my hands and have the empty soap bottles to prove it.  She believes she caught it in an hour-long postal line, all masked and socially distanced, waiting to mail Christmas packages, and thinking it would be a minor trip.  It was one of the very few times she went out, and the timelines corresponded.  Extended exposure to a crowd is a good way to get it.  As I wrote here, I could feel the disease in the air in a free public COVID testing line in San Diego earlier this year, owing to the large crowds in a semi-enclosed space, and concluded that in a big crowd situation, the masks and social distancing seemed to be inadequate.

So while it's quite possible the three congressmembers did catch COVID from the crowd situation in the closed room even while wearing masks, there's no guarantee that someone not wearing a mask is the one who spread it.  Masked people can spread, too.  With the majority of the people inside the room wearing masks, the odds are still the highest that that someone wearing the non-medical-grade mask is the one who did, even with a lower rate of transmission.  That's just because of the high numbers. 

So pinning it on the Republicans without masks is hardly science, particularly if those people tested negative.  And yes, I think the Republicans who didn't wear masks should have done it; it was obnoxious that they didn't; and if I were in the room and saw that, I would have said something, too.  But to pin it on them for sure is to put all of one's faith in the power of masks, which is junk science.  Unless those people really had COVID, they probably didn't spread.

The whole scene, in fact, was chaotic, with crowds, some of whom were let in by the police or didn't know they weren't supposed to be there, as well as truly bad people who broke things and rioted, plus cops, reporters, and congressional staff, and employees.  And with COVID very, very contagious now with the winter flu season, it's just as possible some of these people caught it not on Capitol Hill, but on the subway, in their neighborhoods, or in the postal line.

The Democrats' outrage about this is pretty disingenuous.  Aren't they the ones who excused the summer Antifa and BLM rioters, claiming a sort of exemption from mask-wearing and crowding just because they agreed with the cause?  Aren't they the ones who went to restaurants and celebrated in the streets with unmasked crowds to ring in Joe Biden and his phony "victory"?  Spare us the outrage.

And the hypocrisy gets worse: the one instance of a COVID patient actually being brought in to the halls of Congress within the same incubation window was courtesy of Nancy Pelosi. who dragged in Rep. Frederika Wilson, who had full-blown COVID, to secure vote for her for House speaker.  Sure, the Democrats said there was Plexiglas, but there were also people who wheeled her in, people who got her out of her car, people who checked her in, people who touched or cleaned the Plexiglas, and other points of contact.  At some point, there's always contact, and that in itself put everyone in Congress at risk. 

Other Democrats were there and at an even higher risk of spreading, at the contagious stage and not obviously under medical care. 

According to the Washington Post:

Two House Democrats who recently had the disease are emerging from isolation just in time to travel to Washington and vote for Pelosi. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) tweeted Friday that it was his "Get Out of Covid Jail day" after spending 10 days in his home. And an aide to Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said the congresswoman would attend the vote after announcing Monday that she had contracted the virus and experienced mild symptoms.

They supposedly voted behind Plexiglas for Pelosi, too, but their contacts since that are unknown and who knows where they were in the room when the Capitol riot happened. These were known people with either exposure or spreadable infection from COVID. 

Here's the kicker, though, from the Post item, buried way down in the article: Unlike the Democrats, all of the Republicans who tested for COVID, stayed home. Only the Democrats who were there to vote for Pelosi could have spread it.

What we have is a clear case of Democrats in a known case, putting congressmembers at risk by introducing COVID patients to vote, which just as easily could have spread to the three Democrats who have since tested positive for COVID in the aftermath.  Sure, there was the Plexiglas, but there were also the staffers who wheeled them in — at some point, there is exposure, despite the best efforts to demonstrate otherwise.  Whom are Democrats most likely to associate with in the halls of Congress?  My money is on other Democrats and their staff, including the ones who wheel patients in.  They aren't fans of associating with Republicans.

But here we are, with Republicans being blamed for the spread of COVID.  Yet the bottom line is, the Democrats don't really know.  They have no certain idea how the House members caught COVID.  But for Democrats, junk science always comes in handy.

Image credit: Pixabay, Public Domain.