House Democratic leaders consider reimposing mask mandate as virus cases reemerge on Capitol Hill

The lower chamber's mask mandate was lifted in June.
The Capitol in DC at dusk
The Capitol in DC at dusk
(Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)

House Democratic leadership is considering reimposing the COVID-19 mask mandate in the chamber – as the virus’s highly-contagious delta variant emerges on Capitol Hill and infection rates rise across the country. 

"We’re going to have to decide – given the upswing in every state – whether or not prudence demands that we go back to wearing masks," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday, according to Roll Call newspaper.

The lower chamber's mask mandate was lifted in June for the fully vaccinated, on the guidance of Congress' Office of the Attending Physician. 

Hoyer said any decision to return to a mask requirement would follow new guidance from the office and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Monday, Florida GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan announced he had tested positive for the virus despite being fully vaccinated.

Buchanan was the first member of Congress to announce a positive test since Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Stephen F. Lynch on Jan. 29, Roll Call also reports.

On Tuesday, the White House announced at least one staffer has recently tested positive and the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed a staffer, purportedly fully vaccinated, had tested positive.

The communications staffer reportedly interacted with the group of Texas Democrats who came to Washington to make a statement about voting rights. 

At least six members of that group have reportedly tested positive for the virus, with at least three having been fully vaccinated.

Forty-one states have reportedly found cases of the variant among residents.