Capitol leaders rescind mask mandate ahead of State of the Union

Hill leaders are retiring their workplace masking policies, making masks optional throughout the Capitol complex ahead of Congress’ return to Washington this week and Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

The Capitol’s Attending Physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan announced Sunday that the rate of positive tests at the Capitol’s testing site is down to 2.7 percent over the last two weeks, below the current rates for Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The Office of the Attending Physician has adopted the CDC’s new model for monitoring community levels and is adapting to the “green” status of the Washington, D.C. region, Monahan said, meaning it’s considered a low transmission area.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi controls masking rules on the House floor, but she has largely deferred to Monahan’s recommendations. The Senate never adopted mask mandates, citing high vaccination rates, though individual offices set their own policies.

The transition away from masks follows Democrats’ shifting rhetoric on entering a new phase of the pandemic, plus fresh recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Friday.

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