House

Rep. Tim Ryan becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, becoming the 11th member of Congress to experience a breakthrough case.

Ryan, who is running for a Senate seat, said he has mild symptoms and will cast votes remotely while isolating at home in Ohio.

His office noted in a statement that he had tested negative for COVID-19 three times in the last ten days before receiving positive test results on Monday.

"While I'm currently experiencing mild symptoms, I'm grateful to have the protection of a safe and effective vaccine - and I know without it, this illness could be much, much worse," Ryan, 48, said in a statement.

Aside from Ryan, 10 other lawmakers have also tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated: Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Troy Nehls (R-Texas), Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.), as well as Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Angus King (I-Maine) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.).

Two additional House Republicans, Reps. Clay Higgins (La.) and Barry Moore (Ala.), also disclosed this summer that they tested positive, but it's not clear if they were vaccinated.

Members of Congress were among the first Americans to get access to COVID-19 vaccines in December, since they were prioritized under continuity-of-government policies.

From late January until July, no members of Congress announced that they had tested positive. That changed with the arrival of the surge in COVID-19 cases nationally due to the highly contagious delta variant.

A requirement to wear masks on the House side of the Capitol complex that first went into effect in July 2020 was briefly rescinded in June as COVID-19 cases were declining nationally. But the Capitol physician reinstated the requirement in July amid the spread of delta-fueled cases.

The mask requirement is enforceable by fines starting at $500 in the House chamber. 

Seven House Republicans have been issued fines in recent months for refusing to wear masks on the House floor. But overall, most lawmakers in both parties have been complying with the mandate in the House chamber since most of them don't want to risk incurring fines.

But many House Republicans and their staff have been ignoring the mask mandate in other parts of the Capitol complex, where facial coverings are required but people failing to abide by the rules are not subject to monetary fines.

The Senate side of the Capitol does not currently have a mask mandate, but nearly all senators in both parties are vaccinated and have been less resistant to pandemic containment measures. 

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