Face masks are again required in the House of Representatives for all lawmakers, staff and reporters - including those fully vaccinated - the Office of the Attending Physician announced in the wake of new CDC guidelines.
'To be clear, for meetings in an enclosed US House of Representatives controlled space, masks are REQUIRED,' Dr. Brian Monahan wrote in a memo sent to staff late Tuesday night that was obtained by DailyMail.com.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi will require face masks at her weekly press conference on Wednesday afternoon. Earlier this year, face masks were required for everyone in the Capitol but that rule was relaxed in June, allowing the fully vaccinated to go mask free.
But in the past few days more lawmakers and staff had been wearing masks in the wake of news that one of Pelosi's staff, along with other congressional aides, had tested positive for COVID.
Some Republicans railed against the new guidelines and more than a dozen intentionally didn't wear face masks on the House floor on Tuesday.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas suggested the House just adjourn.
'We can't come to the floor, I can't execute my constitutional duty unless I wear a mask. Which is it? Vaccines or masks?,' he said on the House floor. 'This institution is a sham, and we should adjourn and shut this place down.'
Monahan argued that with lawmakers traveling from all parts of the country - including those with high infection rates - face masks make sense.
'For the Congress, representing a collection of individuals traveling weekly from various risk areas (both high and low rates of disease transmission), all individuals should wear a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask (for example an ear loop surgical mask or a KN95 mask) when they are in an interior space,' he wrote.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have worn face masks around the Capitol recently amid cases of 'breakthrough' COVID
Cases in the U.S. have increased by 376% in the past month, largely because of the Delta variant
Pelosi defended the new guidelines.
'We honor that,' she said of Monahan's decision, noting it was his call.
Monahan reminded people face masks are required on the floor of the House - with lawmakers and staff subject to fines if they don't wear one - although a lawmaker may remove the mask to speak.
He urged anyone not vaccinated to do so, pointing out that the staffers and lawmakers who had 'breakthrough' COVID cases - testing positive despite being vaccinated - had 'no or minimal symptoms.'
Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the new face mask guidelines
'All these recent individuals who acquired the 'breakthrough' infection had no or minimal symptoms. There were no severe cases, attesting to the protective value of the vaccination,' Monahan wrote.
The Pfizer vaccine is offered to lawmakers and staff via his office.
Monahan said there was a 'very high degree of complete vaccination' on Capitol Hill although he did not supply exact numbers.
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