Infected Lawmaker Admits To Carelessly Exposing Others To COVID-19

Screengrab / Rep. Tom Rice / YouTube

Sarah Shaiman

GOP Rep. Rice III did not express regret for not wearing a mask on the House floor just weeks before falling ill.

Republican Representative Tom Rice III (R-SC) says he has no regrets about his refusal to wear a mask on the House floor, despite contracting coronavirus, according to a Wall Street Journal report

  • He said of wearing masks, “My understanding is that a mask doesn’t really protect you as much as it protects other people. I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. That is, if I caught it on the House floor...I doubt that had anything to do with it.”
  • It is unclear how Rice contracted the disease. His son also fell ill after attending an outdoor birthday party. The Rice family also went golfing, to Lowe’s, restaurants, and the grocery store. 
  • Rice did not wear a mask for a vote on the House floor May 28, just two weeks before his family became sick. 
  • The house implemented proxy-voting so colleagues could record a vote on behalf of representatives who did not wish to risk exposure. Only Democrats utilized this safety feature, and Republicans filed a lawsuit to invalidate the safety precaution.
  • The Journal reported that “Rice is one of seven House members and at least one senator diagnosed with the illness resulting from the new coronavirus,” and “antibody tests showed two more senators likely had contracted the virus earlier this year.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she was considering changing the House rules to make mask-wearing mandatory, according to sources familiar with the matter. “It’s unsafe, it’s rude, it’s pathetic,” she said, of her mostly GOP colleagues who refused to wear masks. 

Rice said his entire family fell ill with the “Wuhan flu” but are now “on the mend,” according to a Facebook post. He added, “We’ve gotta keep the economy moving...This is certainly more serious than the flu but we can’t keep ourselves locked down indefinitely.”

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