The Capitol’s chief physician is considering reimposing a mask recommendation in the Capitol after two months of mostly face-covering-free business in the House and Senate, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
An imminent announcement is not expected, but the Office of the Attending Physician is weighing whether to suggest that people don masks again inside the Capitol complex as the Delta variant surges nationwide.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the top Republican on the Senate Rules and Administration panel, said that some of the precautions implemented during the peak of the pandemic could return.
“I thought for a moment that you were all standing on your dots again,” he told masked and unmasked reporters Thursday, gesturing to the circular yellow stickers that still dot the floor of the Senate basement, each six feet apart, that read “thanks for practicing social distancing.”
“But I guess we might have to go back to some of that,” he added.
Blunt was an advocate for a widespread testing regimen at the Capitol, similar to daily tests implemented at the White House. But the Capitol never mandated testing and took a piecemeal approach to enforcement of public health measures.
Some staff and lawmakers are already masking up in response to news earlier this week that several fully vaccinated people within the Capitol have tested positive for Covid. Lines at the Capitol Hill testing site intermittently stretched around the corner this week, as many staffers got tested at work for the first time after working remotely during the peak of the pandemic.
In a letter to Hill offices Tuesday, Attending Physician Brian Monahan warned that the Delta variant is “much more contagious” and poses “a dire health risk to unvaccinated individuals.”