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House Physician Warns Congress Members May Have Been Exposed To Covid-19 During Capitol Attack

Members of Congress forced to hide-out as MAGA rioters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday may have been exposed to the deadly Covid-19 virus, according to The Washington Post. The paper quoted an email sent by Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician, to members of Congress on Sunday morning:

"On Wednesday January 6, many members of the House community were in protective isolation in 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."

The email did not specify how large the group was, but it was confirmed from a video by Punchbowl News that some Republicans refused to wear masks-- including Reps. Andy Biggs (AZ.), Michael Cloud (TX), Markwayne Mullin (OK), and Scott Perry (PA)-- even though Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-PA) offered masks to those without one, according to the Post.

One House member, Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-KS), disclosed on Thursday that he had received a positive coronavirus test on Wednesday evening," said the newspaper. "But Pat Adams, a spokesman for LaTurner, said Sunday that the congressman was not among the members who were taken to the lockdown area in question Wednesday afternoon."


Experts told ABC News, "The riot on Capitol Hill could end up being a superspreader event," though they will not know for weeks.

Covid-19 continues to rage in the country, as the US broke single-day case records over the weekend-- 269,420 cases Friday and 278,920 Saturday. In total, over 300,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For perspective that is nearly half the population of Washington, DC. And, in the last 24 hours, more people died from Covid-19, 3,700, than people who died in the tragic September 11th attacks.

The overwhelming dangers and statistics were still not enough to convince those Republican Congresspeople to wear masks, leaving their mask-wearing colleagues and staff "furious," said AP News.

No further details have come out regarding the potential exposure.

The Pandemic Is A National Test That We’ve Failed

Over the past century, there have been times when Americans showed they can unite to overcome formidable challenges: winning World II, sending men to the moon, bringing down Soviet communism. The coronavirus pandemic will not be remembered as one of them.

It's fair to say that we have done many things right, individually and collectively. Most Americans, most of the time, have abided by the counsel of public health experts that we wear masks, socially distance and avoid large indoor gatherings. Most governors and mayors have taken prudent steps to curb transmission of the virus. In all, we've done pretty well.

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Anti-Mask Passengers Endangering Flight Attendants And Other Travelers

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

As the U.S. passes the grim milestone of 20 million COVID-19 cases, much of the world is bracing for a stunning surge in the virus' spread, courtesy of millions who ignored public health recommendations and traveled for the recent holidays. The deadly virus didn't stop more than seven million people from flying during the week before Christmas, and that's just in the United States.

Those numbers represent just a fraction of typical holiday travel numbers, back in the days before COVID-19. Airlines, of course, are bleeding money, and their employees have faced reduced hours, layoffs, furloughs, and buyouts for the better part of a year. Concurrently, denial of the absolutely-real pandemic is rampant, particularly among the Trumpian right, who have seen their soon-to-be ousted leader and his acolytes politicize and ridicule the wearing of facial coverings to help thwart spread of the novel coronavirus.

With these facts in mind, it should come as no surprise that many of those who might be willing to board a plane in a pandemic might also be unwilling to don a mask. A stunning new analysis from The Washington Post's Michael Laris indicates that airline workers—much like retail workers who were violently assaulted, treated like a Kleenex, and even killedfor daring to ask people to comply with mask requirements—are facing abuse at the hands of reckless air travelers.

In a review of "more than 150 aviation safety reports filed with the federal government since the start of the pandemic," The Post found that passengers of the anti-mask stripe boldly exploit the allowance to remove masks while eating and drinking.

Asked to mask up, one passenger pulled out a large bag of popcorn and nibbled her way through it, kernel by kernel, stymieing the cabin crew for the length of the flight. Others blew off requests by chomping leisurely on apple slices, between occasional coughs, or lifting an empty plastic cup and declaring: "I am drinking!"

Another report describes an unmasked man who charged up the aisle, stopping just 18 inches from a flight attendant. "He sneezed directly in my face, making no attempt to cover his mouth, pull up his mask or turn towards the row 1 window," lamented the employee, who was, thankfully, wearing a mask that caught the brunt of the man's sinus explosion.

Airlines, of course, are quick to note such reports, and thus anti-mask passengers behaving badly, are quite rare—claiming otherwise could deter travel by those who understand that masks work. But Baruch Fischhoff, a psychologist and Carnegie Mellon professor, begs to differ, telling The Post that "if you see 100 (reports), there are probably 1,000 or 10,000. This is a widespread enough phenomenon that it needs to be taken seriously."

COVID denier-in-chief Donald Trump and his administration don't even support mask mandates at cocktail parties, much less on the federal front. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao repeatedly has quashed calls for mask requirements on public transportation.

President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to ask the nation to mask up for at least his first 100 days in office; he also plans to issue a first-day mask mandate in federal buildings and on interstate trains, planes, and buses.

Whether or not people will comply remains to be seen.

Poll: Striking Number Of Americans Believe Baseless Conspiracy Theories

A scary percentage of our neighbors believe in next-level crazy conspiracy theories.

According to a new NPR/Ipsos poll, forty percent of Americans believe the wild claim that Covid-19 was produced in a Chinese lab, despite science and evidence disproving this. One-third of people believe that election fraud is the reason that President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 election, again with no proof.

Chris Jackson, a pollster with Ipsos, told NPR that "increasingly, people are willing to say and believe stuff that fits in with their view of how the world should be, even if it doesn't have any basis in reality or fact."

"It's total bonkers," Jackson continued, "and yet ... essentially half of Americans believe it's true or think that maybe it's true. They don't really know. And I think that's terrifying that half of Americans believe that could be the case."

Looking specifically at election conspiracy theories, evidence disproving it goes across the political aisle. Trump's long-time Attorney General and right-hand man William Barr said that there is no evidence of election fraud. And investigators in Georgia found no fraudulent absentee ballots after a thorough audit, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Trump's own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) took it a step further, saying, "The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history," in a statement. Which lead to the firing of now-former CISA Director Christopher Krebs.

"Conspiracy theories have most often flourished during times of great sociopolitical upheaval and uncertainty," says a November Vox article.

With Covid-19 ravaging communities across America, this is almost as uncertain as it gets. So, QAnon conspiracy theorists take comfort in what Trump says because it's painless. It's easier to make up excuses and lies than to face your party losing an election or that there is a dangerous virus killing thousands of Americans. And with the internet, spreading conspiracies is easier than ever, according to Vox.

People are also achieving wealth and social media fame from conspiracy theories:: "Alex Jones, the host of the alarmist far-right show Infowars, is perhaps the most successful, visible example of someone building an empire out of peddling conspiracy theories — the more absurd, the better. But he's not alone. Conspiracy theories flourish on TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube (which has long fought a battle against those who spread them) not just because individual theories go viral, but because their creators can become hugely influential," according to Vox. "There's no hard evidence that conspiracy theories are circulating more widely today than ever before. But over the past five years, it has certainly seemed like average Americans have bought into them more and more."