The Capitol Physician announced new guidance for President Biden's upcoming first State of the Union address and "the science" is apparently still rapidly evolving.
In a change from what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had previously said about limiting attendance to just a fraction of Congress' 541 members and delegates, the House physician notified members of Congress on Thursday that all members will be allowed to attend. However, no guests will be allowed.
As far as mandates, there will be several: K/N95 masks that cover the nose and mouth will be required, social distancing will be required, and a negative PCR test will be prerequisite to attending Biden's March 1st address. In addition, being boosted is "strongly recommended."
Members also "must avoid physical contact with other individuals."
!!! NEW SOTU guidance from SAA / Capitol physician:— Chris Cioffi (@ReporterCioffi) February 17, 2022
-All members invited, but no guests.
-Social distancing // KN95 masks will be required
-All attendees will need a PCR test "within one day" of event
- Vaccine booster "strongly" recommended.
These requirements are more stringent than what will be required in Washington, D.C. where mask and vaccine mandates were rolled back at the end of February.
Oh, and those masks the Capitol physician has been providing to members for use in the House chamber? They're all from China. So as Joe Biden looks out at Congress on March 1st, he's set to find a sea of faces all emblazoned with "MADE IN CHINA." How fitting.
KN95 masks supplied to lawmaker offices by the Office of the Attending Physician… are stamped “MADE IN CHINA”.— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) January 13, 2022
Some members aren’t happy.
The Capitol Attending physician recently ordered masks be upgraded to N95 or KN95’s bc of Omicron… they’re required on the House floor. pic.twitter.com/SDoVj887gy
Noncompliance will supposedly be punished, according to the Capitol physician's guidance:
Please note that failure to follow guidelines or removal of the mask in the House Chamber will result in the attendee's removal from the event and/or fines.
Note: the bit Sarah is quoting from ("Pandemic Admission Requirements") ends with the following bolded, italicized text:— Aaron Fritschner (@Fritschner) February 17, 2022
"Please note that failure to follow guidelines or removal of the mask in the House Chamber will result in the attendee’s removal from the event and/or fines." https://t.co/uQmPLkHrZr
The news, while welcome to some, highlighted the divide between what Democrat congressional leadership allows for themselves and their pomp and circumstance versus what they allow the American people who elected them. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) noted how "it's remarkable" for all of Congress to gather for Biden's State of the Union but "the U.S. Capitol and Senate office buildings remain closed to the American people."
GOP TN Sen Hagerty: It’s remarkable that all 535 members of Congress and other government VIPs will be permitted to gather together for President Biden’s State of the Union address, and yet the U.S. Capitol and Senate office buildings remain closed to the American people.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 17, 2022