GOP Rep Lauren Boebert 'threw face mask at House staffer who tried to hand it to her' after Congress reinstated mask mandate amid surge of Delta variant
Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert reportedly threw a COVID-19 mask at a House staffer who tried to hand her one after Congress reinstated its face covering mandate.
The Colorado lawmaker, who has publicly opposed vaccines and downplayed the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, tossed the mask into the face of a Democratic congressional staffer on Wednesday, Politico and ABC News reported.
She sought to clarify the incident in a tweet hours later, writing: 'The same Democrat staffer who tried to hand me that face muzzle just tried to voice vote on our motion to adjourn.
'Democrats always find a way for ineligible people to cast a vote.'
She also attacked the reinstated mask mandate as 'anti-science' and 'totalitarian' in another tweet.
Boebert's outburst at the staffer was first reported by Sarah Ferris of Politico and Ben Siegel of ABC News.
'Wow. GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert just threw a mask in the face of a floor staffer when she came to the floor not wearing one, per someone watching the exchange,' Ferris tweeted.
Meanwhile, Siegel tweeted: 'Rep. Lauren Boebert just threw a mask back at a Democratic floor staffer who tried to give her one, per source on the House floor who saw it happen.'
The House reinstated its mask mandate amid a surge of the Delta variant, after Congress' attending physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan said in a memo late on Tuesday night that he was recommending the change.
'For all House Office Buildings, the Hall of the House, and House Committee Meetings, wearing of a well-fitted, medical grade, filtration face mask is required when an individual is in an interior space and other individuals are present,' the memo read.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had released a new guidance on Tuesday urging vaccinated people in some parts of the US to wear masks indoors in public areas like the Capitol.
Many Republicans have complained that such government edicts infringe on individual liberties.
'Mask and vaccine mandates: Bullying, Controlling, Unconstitutional, Threats to Liberty!' Republican Representative Jody Hice of Georgia tweeted on Wednesday morning.
Tempers continued to flare after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly called Republican opposition to the directive 'moronic'.
Pelosi stopped short of confirming a report based on garbled audio that she called Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, 'such a moron.'
'The Speaker believes that saying a mask requirement is 'not a decision based on science' is moronic,' Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, said in reference to a tweet from McCarthy.
In his tweet, McCarthy had said: 'Make no mistake - The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.'
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the upper chamber, urged Americans last week to get vaccinated against COVID-19 while warning of a repeat of last year's rising caseloads and shutdowns if people refuse to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
McConnell also urged Americans to ignore 'demonstrably bad advice' coming from pundits and anti-vaxxers. As cases skyrocket, he noted nearly all new virus hospitalizations nationwide are among people who have not been vaccinated.
Since early in the pandemic, mask-wearing and vaccinations have been U.S. political flashpoints, with Republicans, encouraged by former President Donald Trump, resisting and Democrats urging compliance with medical advice.
Some 57.6 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, with the lowest rates across the heavily Republican U.S. Southeast.
Four of the five US states with the lowest vaccination rates have Republican governors: Mississippi, Idaho, Wyoming and Alaska, according to a Reuters COVID tracker. The governor of the fifth state, Louisiana, is a Democrat.
Democrats have urged Republican governors including Ron DeSantis to resume COVID-19 reporting after several states had scaled back publishing the statistics this month.
The shift to weekly instead of daily reporting in Florida, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota - all led by Republican governors - marked a notable shift during the pandemic.
The move has deprived the public of real-time information on outbreaks, cases, hospitalizations and deaths in their communities.
Coronavirus dashboards have become a staple for Americans closely tracking case counts and trends to navigate a crisis that has killed more than 600,000 people in the United States.