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At least five lawmakers announced on Tuesday that they had tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of tonight’s State of the Union address.
To attend tonight’s speech, guests – even those who are fully vaccinated – must produce a negative test.
California Sen. Alex Padilla and Rep. Pete Aguilar, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington and Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida — all Democrats — announced through statements or tweets on Tuesday that they had been tested. positive.
As I do regularly, I tested for COVID yesterday. Late last night I received a positive test result with a breakthrough case. I am asymptomatic and grateful to be fully vaccinated and boosted.
— Senator Alex Padilla (@SenAlexPadilla) March 1, 2022
Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois said on Friday that she had tested positive.
Typically, a State of the Union address is attended by 1,500 or more people. Members of Congress and other political dignitaries bring guests and family members. But last year, only 200 people attended Biden’s joint speech to Congress in April, just as COVID-19 vaccines had begun to become widely available to most American adults.
This year, all 535 members of Congress were invited to attend tonight’s speech, a decision made under the direction of Brian P. Monahan, the Capitol’s attending physician. Many Republicans decided to skip the event. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he would not attend because he opposed the requirement that everyone present take a COVID-19 test.
Attendees will not be required to wear masks tonight — a change to Monahan’s guidelines made in the wake of declining levels of COVID-19 in the DC area. The White House also recently changed its mask policy, allowing fully vaccinated staff members to go mask-free.