ST. PAUL — After a White House Rose Garden event resulted in a coronavirus outbreak that spread to Congress' halls, Minnesota's U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is cosponsoring a resolution requiring face masks, a testing strategy and contact tracing in the U.S. Senate.
Introduced on Monday, Oct. 5, by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, Senate Concurrent Resolution 49 if passed would put in place a universal face mask requirement in U.S. Senate buildings and wings, testing protocols and contact tracing for all who work in the Capitol complex, required quarantines for lawmakers and Capitol Hill workers who have direct contact with a COVID-positive patient or who test positive themselves and a ban on coming to the Senate floor or committee hearings after a positive test.
Klobuchar said in a Wednesday, Oct. 7, statement that the measures in SCR 49 are "common sense" and help to ensure that the federal government remains functional throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
"This is critical for continuity of government and our work on behalf of the American people," she said.
The resolution comes after a maskless White House Rose Garden ceremony attended by 200 people has been linked to positive coronavirus tests for several Washington lawmakers, staffers and journalists — including President Donald Trump, himself.
Of the 23 attendees who The New York Times reports have tested positive for the virus thus far, two are U.S. Sen.s Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C. Both senators sit on the influential Senate Judiciary Committee, which is set to consider the controversial nomination of judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lee and Tillis have attended committee hearings, without wearing face masks, since contracting the virus.
Klobuchar also sits on the judiciary committee, and was present at a Thursday, Oct. 1, hearing with both Lee and Tillis. Her office said she has tested negative for the virus since attending the hearing.
As of Wednesday, more than 7.5 million Americans have tested positive for the novel virus, and approximately 211,000 have died as a result. The senators wrote in SCR 49 that as of Monday, the United States accounts for about 4.25% of the world's population, but more than 20% of those who have died of COVID-19 globally.
In Minnesota alone, nearly 107,000 residents have tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday, and over 2,100 have died, per the state Department of Health.
Also out of Washington, three of Minnesota's Republican U.S. representatives accompanied Trump on his campaign trip to the state just a day before the president tested positive for coronavirus. All three congressmen — U.S. Reps. Jim Hagedorn, Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber — have since tested negative for the virus, but have not quarantined despite public health officials' warnings that the virus can take time to incubate before resulting in a positive test. The Minnesota DOH has advised the 3,000 attendees of Trump's Sept. 30 rally in Duluth to take a coronavirus test.