What to Know
- A union official said at least 41 U.S. Capitol Police officers have tested positive for the virus since March.
- In the first half year of the COVID-19 crisis, more than 600 U.S. Capitol Police employees were placed on leave.
- Cases are also rising among contractors and civil servants who work for the architect of the Capitol.
As Congress grapples with how to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, cases are increasing among the civil servants and police officers who serve on Capitol Hill.
Despite a ban on tour groups that has been in effect for nearly six months and restrictions on movement and gatherings in Capitol Hill meeting areas, case numbers continue to steadily rise.
A union official said at least 41 U.S. Capitol Police officers have tested positive for the virus since March. Though many have returned to work, at least 60 employees remain on administrative leave due to possible exposure or illnesses, according to records released by a U.S. House committee.
In the first half year of the COVID-19 crisis, more than 600 U.S. Capitol Police employees were placed on leave. U.S. Capitol Police officers continue to operate security checkpoints, gates and patrols on the grounds. The agency has made dozens of arrests since mid-March, according to U.S. Capitol Police weekly arrest reports.
Cases are also rising among contractors and civil servants who work for the architect of the Capitol. More than 60 cases have been confirmed so far, according to a U.S. House committee. More than a dozen workers remain on leave due to illness or possible exposure.
A growing number of U.S. House members have reported testing positive, including members from Florida, Texas and Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., who is the top Republican on the House committee that oversees Capitol Hill operations.
In guidance issued to the Capitol Hill community on Aug. 22, the House sergeant-at-arms encouraged all congressional staff to telework and to wear face coverings when they’re on the Capitol grounds. The memo also said access will remain limited to members of the U.S. House. It said, “During debate, access to the Floor of the House will be limited to those Members who are scheduled to speak during debate. Members who wish to speak during debate should contact their respective Leadership office. Unless participating in the debate, Members are encouraged to remain in their offices. Members will be notified with sufficient time to travel safely to the Chamber to vote.”
Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, said congressional leaders should approve universal testing for workers.
“It’s not just for members of Congress, because frankly we’re not there much, but it’s for the essential workers, who maintain the complex, and the Capitol Police officers, who go to work every day to serve the Hill.”
A ban on tour groups will remain in effect according to the Aug. 22 memo. The ban has now been in place for nearly half a year.