BREAKING NEWS Huntsville nursing home caring for 16 residents with coronavirus Full Story
BREAKING NEWS Suspect arrested for murder, DUI after bicyclist killed in Athens wreck Full Story
SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts

Pelosi mandates masks in House chamber after Gohmert tests positive for Covid-19

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday she would require all House members and aides to wear masks on the floor after Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert -- who...

Posted: Jul 30, 2020 7:43 AM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday she would require all House members and aides to wear masks on the floor after Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert -- who was often in the chamber interacting with colleagues and refusing to wear a face-covering -- tested positive for coronavirus.

"Members and staff will be required to wear masks at all times in the hall of the House," Pelosi announced from the House floor Wednesday afternoon.

Lawmakers will be permitted to temporarily take off masks when they are speaking.

Members and staff will not be allowed to enter if they don't wear masks. Pelosi noted that as speaker she has the authority to direct the House sergeant-at-arms to tell members to leave if they do not wear a mask.

Hours after Pelosi announced the House chamber mandate, the House sergeant-at-arms issued an additional set of rules "upon the direction of the Speaker of the House" requiring face coverings in all House office buildings, effective at 8 a.m. ET Thursday.

There are some exceptions, such as when a person is eating or drinking, or giving a speech or interview provided no one is within 6 feet.

"Any person not wearing a face cover will be asked to put on a face cover or leave the building," the memo announcing the policy said.

House lawmakers are already required to wear masks during committee proceedings, though some members do not always abide by the rule. The Senate, by contrast, has not implemented any mask requirements.

The move from Pelosi came as a growing number of lawmakers expressed concern and raised questions over safety precautions on Capitol Hill after the news of Gohmert's diagnosis. Gohmert has previously spent time on the House floor during votes speaking to aides and lawmakers without a mask or social distancing.

But despite the Gohmert scare, some GOP members still opted not to wear masks on the House floor earlier on Wednesday prior to Pelosi's announcement.

Republican Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana was seen sitting on the House floor not wearing a mask. He told CNN last month that wearing a mask is "part of the dehumanization of the children of God. You're participating in it by wearing a mask."

GOP Rep. Greg Steube of Florida was seen standing at the back of the chamber not wearing a mask, nor was GOP Rep. Brian Mast, also from Florida, who was sitting one seat apart from Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska, who had his mask pulled down as he was chatting with Mast.

Mast later told CNN that he "sometimes" wears a mask and sometimes doesn't.

"We're all at risk every day of Covid or a host of different things and you bear the risk that you're willing to undertake for yourself or that you have based upon your health conditions or underlying health conditions or whatever that might be," Mast said. "In terms of worry for myself, it's pretty low."

Republican Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan was also maskless while having another conversation with a maskless member.

Texas GOP Rep. Chip Roy does not plan to isolate despite having a recent maskless interaction with Gohmert.

Last week, Roy was on the House floor interacting at length with Gohmert. Neither were wearing masks.

On Wednesday, Roy was in the House and wearing a mask. He said he isn't going to isolate and wasn't concerned about potentially getting exposed. "I'm not concerned," he said.

Roy said that he's not concerned "anymore than the interactions with perfect strangers on an airplane with circulating air. With cotton masks on an airplane, where everybody is pretending like they're doing something noble to try to save people from a virus on a cylinder with 50 people on it flying through the air."

Roy added: "My question to you all is how are people wearing a cotton mask on an airplane saving you from circulating virus on an airplane?"

Roy contended he's "happy to wear a mask" and is not skeptical of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but questioned whether a "thin piece of cotton" on someone's face -- often with a valve -- is enough to prevent the virus from spreading. He argued there are doctors who raise questions about the effectiveness.

"But my question here is we act like wearing this thin piece of cotton, then everybody gets the blessing that they're somehow saving everybody."

Roy said, adding that he does wear a mask when he can't socially distance, though CNN has spotted him interacting at a close proximity with members on the House floor when not at a physical distance.

The House has taken precautions to limit the spread of the virus, including instituting a form of remote voting for members who are unwilling or unable to travel. Members who are physically present now vote in alphabetical groups to limit how many people are on the House floor at the same time. Members have also adopted virtual meeting technology for many House hearings.

In May, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell jointly rejected an offer from the White House to send rapid testing resources to the Capitol complex.

They said they wanted "to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities" fighting the virus, and that lawmakers and staff would use "current testing protocols that the Office of the Attending Physician has put in place until these speedier technologies become more widely available."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that the House isn't mandating testing for lawmakers at this point, but "we're discussing that."

"This is, I think, a moment where we ought to discuss it again," Hoyer said.

This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
96° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 102°
Florence
Scattered Clouds
99° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 105°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
93° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 97°
Decatur
Clear
95° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 100°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 97°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99390

Reported Deaths: 1733
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13109243
Mobile9947207
Montgomery6835148
Madison537834
Tuscaloosa421373
Unassigned359961
Baldwin354425
Shelby328335
Marshall316736
Lee267845
Morgan239318
Etowah212131
DeKalb181913
Calhoun178414
Elmore172338
Walker152664
Houston139812
Russell13682
St. Clair133817
Limestone133313
Dallas132323
Franklin127420
Cullman122512
Colbert118113
Autauga116921
Lauderdale116719
Escambia108217
Talladega102614
Jackson9894
Tallapoosa85579
Chambers84138
Dale83424
Blount8004
Chilton7926
Butler76436
Coffee7616
Covington73520
Pike7097
Clarke6629
Barbour5755
Marion57424
Lowndes57224
Marengo55215
Hale47626
Bullock46411
Winston45311
Perry4424
Bibb4385
Wilcox42910
Monroe4214
Randolph40110
Pickens4009
Conecuh39310
Washington39112
Sumter36018
Lawrence3491
Macon33514
Crenshaw3185
Choctaw28312
Cherokee2737
Henry2633
Geneva2611
Clay2585
Greene25111
Lamar2222
Fayette2075
Cleburne1271
Coosa1012
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 122712

Reported Deaths: 1223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby23238304
Davidson20620213
Rutherford655354
Hamilton613253
Knox460039
Williamson355125
Sumner343373
Unassigned316110
Out of TN292414
Wilson229023
Bradley194312
Montgomery193913
Sevier18867
Putnam176718
Trousdale15836
Robertson155819
Hamblen139614
Blount130311
Maury12577
Washington12522
Tipton120810
Madison110217
Sullivan99414
Bedford92811
Hardeman91717
Macon86013
Lake7870
Loudon7423
Gibson7175
Bledsoe7051
Fayette6988
Dickson6912
Anderson6846
Dyer6508
Cheatham5957
Henderson5932
Jefferson5684
Obion5654
Lawrence5626
McMinn54720
Coffee5453
Rhea5362
Warren5304
Carter5226
Lauderdale5088
Haywood5006
Greene4928
Cocke4752
Roane4752
Hawkins4727
Hardin4718
Cumberland4576
Smith4524
Weakley4514
Monroe4449
Giles38113
McNairy3785
DeKalb3602
Franklin3304
Carroll3143
Lincoln3021
Marshall3013
White2935
Henry2880
Johnson2800
Claiborne2720
Crockett2695
Hickman2680
Campbell2481
Wayne2262
Marion2244
Chester2212
Decatur2133
Polk2063
Grainger1970
Overton1951
Unicoi1660
Union1600
Benton1551
Cannon1470
Jackson1271
Humphreys1243
Morgan1221
Scott1190
Grundy1142
Meigs1060
Sequatchie1050
Fentress930
Perry810
Hancock802
Clay760
Lewis751
Stewart740
Moore630
Houston590
Van Buren360
Pickett351

Community Events