Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor, tested positive for COVID-19 after being forced to hide in the Capitol Building with Republicans who refused to wear masks, she said in a statement.

The New Jersey congresswoman believes she contracted the virus while hiding from supporters of President Donald Trump, who attacked the Capitol Building, last Wednesday.  

“I received a positive test result for COVID-19, and am home resting at this time. While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents,” she said. 

Bloomberg News reported that Coleman survived lung cancer and is the first Black woman to represent New Jersey in Congress. 

Multiple Democratic members of Congress were outraged when Republicans scoffed at efforts to get them to wear masks as they hid from pro-Trump rioters, who were reportedly looking to take hostages, according to The Washington Post.

Videos showed Republicans laughing at Democrats who had masks on in the tight space. 


Lawmakers were in Congress certifying the results of the 2020 election when Trump urged hundreds of his heavily-armed, bomb-wielding supporters to attack the Capitol Building and stop the certification process.

They did just that, beating Capitol Police officers while roaming through the building with guns, pipe bombs, radios, stun guns and zip ties seeking to take members of both parties hostage. One officer died from his injuries, as Blavity previously reported

As members of Congress hid in an undisclosed location, many put masks on and handed out masks to others who did not have any. Most Republicans refused to put masks on, sparking concerns after the saga that members of Congress would test positive for COVID-19. 

By Sunday, a person who was in the room with members of Congress tested positive for COVID-19. Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, sent an email out to all members of Congress on Sunday saying someone had tested positive.

“On Wednesday, Jan. 6, many members of the House community were in protective isolation in a room located in a large committee hearing space. The time in this room was several hours for some and briefer for others. During this time, individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection,” he wrote in his email, which was obtained by The Washington Post. 

On Thursday, Kansas Rep. Jake LaTurner wrote on Twitter that he tested positive for COVID-19 and by Sunday, Tennessee Rep. Charles Fleischmann also said he tested positive. 

Coleman said that like other members of Congress, she had been given the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine but was awaiting her second dose. President-elect Joe Biden received his second dose of the vaccine on Monday, according to The Associated Press. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield told McClatchy that it was likely there would be a spike in COVID-19 infections among congress members and those who took part in the riot considering no one was wearing masks and many were close to each other. 

“I do think you have to anticipate that this is another surge event. You had largely unmasked individuals in a non-distanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol,” Redfield said. 

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester said she was “very concerned" in an interview with CNN because the members of Congress "were sitting in a super-spreader event but instead of sitting back and lamenting, I tried to go into action to try and persuade people to put them on.” Rochester was seen in the video handing out masks.

“By the end of passing them out, I only had one left in my hand offering them to everyone," Rochester said. "I was disappointed in those who didn’t accept the masks but was encouraged by those who did. At least we were a little bit safer."