Dozens of Capitol Police test positive for coronavirus after siege

Dozens of Capitol Police test positive for coronavirus after siege
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The head of the U.S. Capitol Police officers' union says that nearly 40 members of the force have tested positive for coronavirus in the days since the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that the number was revealed by Gus Papathanasiou, head of the labor committee for the U.S. Capitol Police branch of the Fraternal Order of Police. Papathanasiou told the newspaper that most of the cases were among officers and supervisors, though it was unclear if all the cases involved officers who were present responding to the attack.

“It’s mostly officers and supervisors, all sworn personnel," he told the Post.

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"[E]veryone’s on top of each other," Papathanasiou added while describing the Jan. 6 scene at the Capitol. "Then when you’ve got pepper spray and pepper balls being used, people are coughing and bodily fluids are all over the place.”

The Post reported that the dozens of cases among U.S. Capitol Police mirror a rising number of cases among D.C. division of the National Guard, which was deployed to provide security during President Biden's administration.

One Capitol Police officer died and dozens of Capitol Police officers were injured as a result of the Jan. 6 violence. Another officer who responded to the scene died several days later. Around 1,500 Capitol Police officers in total responded to the scene alongside roughly 1,000 members of D.C. Metropolitan police force.

U.S. Capitol Police did not immediately return a request to confirm the union's COVID-19 case count. A spokesperson told the Post that among the department's "top priorities is to provide USCP officers with the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as the vaccine becomes more readily available to first responders.”