Capitol riots: 38 police officers test positive for Covid after clashes with Trump supporters

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Close to 40 Capitol Police officers have tested positive for Covid-19 in the weeks since the riot at the US Capitol on 6 January.

A mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol on that day, causing the House to be evacuated and numerous politicians to barricade themselves in offices to hide from the rioters, some of whom were carrying guns and other weapons.

Five people died and numerous more were injured, and Donald Trump was impeached by the House for a second time after inciting the riots at a rally nearby.

Gus Papathanasiou, head of the labor committee for the US Capitol Police branch of the Fraternal Order of Police, told The Washington Post on Saturday that 38 officers have tested positive for coronavirus in the weeks since the riot.

Mr Papathanasiou told the Post that the majority of the cases were among officers and supervisors, but it was unclear how many were directly involved in the riots at the Capitol.

Around 1,500 Capitol Police officers responded to the riots on 6 January, alongside close to 1,000 members of the DC Metropolitan police force.

Describing the scene at the Capitol, Mr Papathanasiou said: “[E]veryone’s on top of each other,” and added: “Then when you’ve got pepper spray and pepper balls being used, people are coughing and bodily fluids are all over the place.”

Speaking with McClathy earlier in the month, former US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr Robert Redfield also warned that the police had been put in danger of contracting coronavirus during the riots.

“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,” Dr Redfield said.

The confirmed cases were among a rise in positive tests for troops who are a part of the DC division of the National Guard, which deployed thousands of personnel to protect President Joe Biden during his inauguration, according to The Hill.

The National Guard troops have been forced to rest in close proximity in the hallways of the Capitol during their long shifts, and were briefly moved to a nearby car park before a backlash caused their break area to be reinstated in the Capitol building.

In a statement to the Post, a Capitol Police spokesperson said that one of its “top priorities is to provide USCP officers with the opportunity to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, as the vaccine becomes more readily available to first responders”.

Since the start of the pandemic, Washington, DC, has recorded more than 35,301 cases and at least 872 deaths.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 25.1 million people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 419,215.

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