US Congress’ doctor urges ‘maximal telework’

Congress’ top doctor urges lawmakers to move to a “maximal telework posture,” citing surging numbers of COVID-19 cases at the Capitol that he said are mostly breakthrough infections of people already vaccinated.

The seven-day average rate of infection at the Capitol’s testing center has risen from less than 1% to more than 13%, Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician, wrote in a letter to congressional leaders obtained by The Associated Press.

Monahan says there has been “an unprecedented number of cases in the Capitol community affecting hundreds of individuals.” In what he said was limited sampling as of December 15, about 61% of the cases were the new, highly contagious Omicron variant while 38% were the Delta variant.

Providing no figure, he says “most” of the cases are breakthroughs.

While such cases have not led to any deaths or hospitalizations among vaccinated lawmakers or congressional staff, Monahan says even mild infections can lead to six to 12 months of “long COVID.” A “reasonable estimate” is that 6% to 10% of cases could end up that way, he added.

Monahan urges congressional offices to “reduce in-person meetings and in-office activities to the maximum extent possible.”

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