Rep. Brad Wenstrup, co-chairman of the GOP Doctors’ Caucus, is challenging Congress’ new guidelines requiring COVID-19 tests for all congressional staff, saying it breaks with medical protocols and pushes Capitol Hill to the front of the nation’s long line for tests.
In a letter Thursday to the congressional Office of the Attending Physician, Mr. Wenstrup, a podiatric surgeon, demanded answers about the new mandate for all staff to administer self-tests at least twice a week.
“This week’s guidance is at odds with the guidance the federal government is giving the American people, fails to acknowledge protections provide from COVID-19 vaccines and natural immunity, and unnecessarily pushes Congress to the front of the testing line ahead of the American people we serve,” Mr. Wenstrup wrote.
The letter went to Dr. Brian P. Monahan, who currently serves as the attending physician, the post responsible for the medical wellbeing of Congress members and staff.
Mr. Monahan’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Wenstrup, Ohio Republican, asked whether the self-tests are mandatory, how many Capitol Hill staffers and employees tested positive for COVID and how severe their cases were in the last month.
He also asked if home tests will be provided for fully remote employees and how much public money will go into ordering the kits.
The lawmaker also asked Mr. Monahan to back up his reasoning behind the push, and ensure the self-testing procedures would not impact the work of Congress.
Congressional staff was given guidelines this week that asked all those coming into the Capitol Hill complex to conduct and complete their self-testing before entering the workplace.
Those who test negative will be allowed to enter the workplace but must be able to answer negatively on a daily health screening provided by the Office of the Attending Physician.
“While a negative test result is reassuring, it does not exclude the fact that a very small amount of the coronavirus could still be present,” said the testing guidance which was obtained by The Washington Times.
If an employee tests positive, they are required to stay home and notify a supervisor.
An inconclusive test result will require staff to re-test themselves until a direct negative or positive result appears.
The guidelines were issued amid a rise in cases that have impacted several staff and lawmakers, most of whom were fully vaccinated and boosted.
At least 65 members of Congress have contracted the virus, many of whom got it in recent weeks.
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.