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(Left) Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK); (Center) Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ); (Right) Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)

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Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) is under fire for refusing to wear a mask in a crowded room during last Wednesday’s violent siege at the U.S. Capitol Building. Rep. Mullin rebutted, “I’m not trying to get political here,” when asked by one of his colleagues to wear one. Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX), and Rep. Doug Lamalfa (R-CA) also refused to wear masks. Sever House members have tested positive for COVID-19 since. 

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), age 75, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), age 55, both Women of Color, have tested positive for COVID-19 — after having to shelter in place with House members who refused to wear masks during a global pandemic.

Studies from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) continue to report that People of Color are disproportionately affected by the virus, with higher hospitalizations and death rates than White Americans

The CDC’s website cites crowded situations, close physical contact, enclosed spaces and duration of exposure without mask-wearing as possible risk factors for spreading the virus. The CDC maintains that wearing “multi-layer cloth masks can both block up to 50-70%” of viral droplets, limiting further spread of the virus. N95 blocks up to 95% of the virus. 

It is unclear if both representatives contracted the virus from House members refusing to wear masks. What’s important to note is both Rep. Coleman’s and Rep. Jayapal’s lives were endangered inside and outside of the Capitol building. 

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman and Rep. Pramila Jayapal were exposed to a highly contagious, deadly virus in a crowded indoor space — with colleagues refusing to wear masks — as People of Color while facing an angry mob who carried Confederate flags, nooses, and anti-Semitism symbols sought to harm them.

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