Feb 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Capitol physician lifts Congress' mask mandate

The House Floor

The U.S. House floor. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Congress' attending physician on Sunday advised congressional staff that masks are no longer required in the Capitol complex.

Why it matters: The new guidance comes as coronavirus cases are now plummeting in D.C. and nationwide.

  • It coincides with the Biden administration’s plans to accelerate the reopening of federal agencies, which Axios reported Sunday.

What they're saying: Capitol physician Brian P. Monahan cited new metrics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for determining when COVID restrictions should be implemented.

  • "The Washington DC region is now in the 'green level' or low level in this new CDC schema allowing for reduction in coronavirus prevention measures such as coronavirus testing frequency and indoor mask wear," Monahan said in an update to staff.
  • According to Monahan, the Capitol testing center's test positive rate has dropped to a 7-day average of 2.7%, down from 13% at the start of the year.
  • Anyone working in the Capitol "may choose to mask at any time, but it is no longer a requirement," Monahan wrote.

But, but, but: Those who test positive for coronavirus, or are exposed or exhibit symptoms, are still being advised to wear N95 or KN95 masks.

  • "COVID19 layered protection measures such as vaccination emphasis, and daily home health screening inventory prior to coming to work should continue," Monahan wrote.
  • Quarantine and isolation policies also remain unchanged.

Driving the news: The new rules extend to President Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday.

  • "KN95 or N95 mask wear is no longer required and mask wear is now an individual choice option," Monahan said, reversing previous guidance requiring masks.
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