Schneider tests positive for COVID-19, blasts lawmakers who don't wear masks
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield has become at least the third member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19 since the siege at the Capitol last week, when he and other lawmakers sheltered together and many didn't wear masks.
All three representatives had been hiding in the same room during the attack, seated and standing near their colleagues for hours, Schneider said.
Schneider, a Democrat representing Illinois' 10th District, lashed out "at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff."
He accused them of deliberately trying to hurt others.
"This is common decency," Schneider told reporters Tuesday during a news conference over Zoom.
Schneider -- holed up in the basement of his home to prevent spreading the disease -- said he received the positive result Tuesday, one day after being tested.
A test taken Saturday came back negative, he said.
He hasn't developed symptoms.
"I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife's health," said Schneider, noting that his wife, Julie, is at increased risk for severe illness if she contracts COVID-19. She will be tested Thursday.
Schneider and dozens of other lawmakers hid in a secure room in the Capitol during Wednesday's deadly incursion by supporters of President Donald Trump. He said he wore a mask the entire time, other than when he was drinking or eating.
That wasn't the case for some Republican lawmakers in the room, who refused to wear masks even when asked by colleagues. Video of Republicans refusing masks has been shared by news agencies and on social media.
Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey were in the same room as Schneider and also have announced they tested positive for the virus since the siege.
Schneider noted he doesn't know whether he or they contracted the virus in that room. But he thinks it's likely, considering he and the two other lawmakers all were in the crowded room at the same time.
In social media remarks after her own diagnosis, Jaypal criticized unnamed Republicans who refused to wear masks and "recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one" during the violence at the Capitol. She called the close-quarters gathering "a superspreader event."
Schneider said he worked in his Capitol office Thursday and drove back to Deerfield on Friday. He acknowledged making several stops on the trip, before he knew he had the virus.
Schneider said he took the first of two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 4. But the vaccine isn't fully effective until both doses are administered.
"I wish I'd had the vaccine earlier," he said. "Maybe I wouldn't be in this situation."
Schneider's COVID-19 revelation prompted a social media post from a fellow member of the Democratic delegation from Illinois, Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove.
"My colleagues need to stop playing politics with public health," Casten wrote.
Moving forward, Schneider said lawmakers who refuse to don masks should be sanctioned and immediately removed from the House floor by security.
"I don't know how it came to be that masks are a political statement," Schneider said.
The House is expected to vote on an article of impeachment against Trump on Wednesday and deal with other matters this week. Schneider supports removing Trump from office and said he will vote by proxy.