A member of Congress says she chose to risk running into Capitol rioters over sheltering with maskless colleagues during the insurrection

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Kelly McLaughlin
·3 min read
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Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., attends a House Oversight and Reform Committee markup in Rayburn Building on a resolution on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.
Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., attends a House Oversight and Reform Committee markup in Rayburn Building on a resolution on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
  • Rep. Stacey Plaskett, who serves as a House delegate representing the Virgin Islands, told Buzzfeed News that she opted to shelter in her office instead of with colleagues during the Capitol insurrection last week.

  • She said was concerned about several Republicans not wearing masks while sheltering in a secure room during the insurrection.

  • In the days since the insurrection, Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Brad Schneider, and Adriano Espaillat have tested positive for COVID-19.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rep. Stacey Plaskett says she opted not to shelter with Republican colleagues who weren't wearing masks during the Capitol insurrection last week and instead chose to risk running into the mob as she sought safety elsewhere.

In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Plaskett, who serves as a House delegate representing the US Virgin Islands, said she was watching the debate over Electoral College votes remotely in her office as rioters who supported President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building on January 6.

See also: 'It was degrading': Black Capitol custodial staff talk about what it felt like to clean up the mess left by violent pro-Trump white supremacists

She and her staff locked their doors, and a few hours later she was told to join other members of Congress in a secure location.

Plaskett briefly went down to the room, but quickly realized several Republican lawmakers weren't wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"I became concerned that, you know, maybe I could fight off or run from rioters, but I wouldn't be able to see the virus as it was coming toward me," she told Buzzfeed. "I decided that I'd rather go through the tunnels and get back to my office and lock the door again."

Plaskett, a Democrat, isn't the only representative to raise concerns over Republicans in the House not wearing masks during the insurrection.

Rep. Susan Wild said last week that "about half" of the people in the sheltering room declined to wear masks, and several people were seen on video not taking up an officer from Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, who tried to pass out surgical masks.

In the days since the insurrection, Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Brad Schneider, and Adriano Espaillat have tested positive for COVID-19.

Coleman wrote an opinion column in the Washington Post after testing positive for COVID-19, in which she criticized her "Republican colleagues' inability to accept facts."

"I am angry that after I spent months carefully isolating myself, a single chaotic day likely got me sick. I am angry that several of our nation's leaders were unwilling to deal with the small annoyance of a mask for a few hours," she wrote.

Schneider told NBC Chicago that he didn't know if he contracted COVID-19 in the Capitol building or elsewhere, but also criticized the actions of his colleagues.

"I know that my exposure in that room was greater than any other time through this entire pandemic," he said, later adding, "I can't blame any one person, but I can condemn the acts of those people, who refuse to put on their masks and just out of courtesy try to keep everyone around them safe or as safe as possible."

Expanded Coverage Module: capitol-siege-module

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