Brian Monahan, the Capitol’s attending physician, said Monday that the Capitol COVID-19 testing center’s seven-day “positivity rate went from less than 1% to greater than 13%” since November.
With the spike in COVID-19 cases, Monahan advised members to shift their focus to telecommuting and for employees to take more extraordinary precautions. For those who choose to stay on the Hill, he recommends replacing the cloth face covering with a stronger N95 or KN95 mask.
Monahan wrote, “Congressional offices, Committees, and Agencies should immediately review their operations to adopt a maximal telework posture to reduce in-person meetings and in-office activities to the maximum extent possible.”
According to Monahan, most infections on the Hill are caused by the Omicron and Delta variants, and the city has the pandemic’s highest infection and hospitalization rates. According to his findings, 61% of cases are Omicron-related, and 38% are Delta-related as of Dec. 15.
The recent cases also appear to be breakthrough infections in vaccinated people. However, he said no one had reported any severe complication, hospitalization, or death so far.
About a century ago, a doctor’s attendance in Congress was established when an alarming number of members died in a year. Overwork to flu outbreaks are all possible causes of death.
According to the Senate website, “In 1928 alone, incumbent members of the Senate and House were dying at the appalling rate of almost 20 per year.”
Even though the number of cases has risen dramatically at the Capitol, according to Monahan, it is not a location where lawmakers and staff are infected. “Although many infections can be detected through testing in the workplace, the most common risk of infection is an individual’s activities outside of the workplace, such as attending receptions, entertainment venues, celebrations, family gatherings, travel, and crowded indoor situations.”
This week, the Senate will convene. Meanwhile, some House members want to attend ceremonies marking the first anniversary of the uprising on Jan. 6, 2020.