Law enforcement agencies that responded to the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol building have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases.
According to CNN and the New York Times, 38 Capitol police officers tested positive for the virus in the two weeks between Jan. 6 and last Friday. In addition, CBS News reports that 150 National Guardsmen have tested positive for the virus during that span, and DCist reports that 82 D.C. Metro Police officers contracted the virus in the days after the riots.
It's unclear how many of those law enforcement officers who tested positive for the virus responded to the riot at the Capitol.
During the Jan. 6 riots, COVID-19 cases were still surging across the country after millions of Americans traveled to celebrate the holidays. The riots also saw intruders — some of whom were not wearing masks — and police tussling in close quarters.
In a statement to DCist, Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee, skewered leaders of the Capitol police force for failing to keep officers safe.
“The union had been pushing the department for testing and recently pushing for vaccines, but the incompetence of the USCP chiefs of police, both former and current with the new acting chief and assistant chiefs, speaks volumes of the lack of leadership at the top of the USCP,” Papathanasiou said. “The continued systemic failures of this Department is unacceptable and the congressional community as well as the officers that put their lives on the line every day deserve better than being led by inept chiefs of police.”
In an interview with McClatchy News, former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that he believed the Capitol riot could be classified as a super-spreader event.
"I do think you have to anticipate that this is another surge event. You had largely unmasked individuals in a non-distanced fashion, who were all through the Capitol," Redfield said.