Public officials, particularly high-ranking Democrats, have spent the past year arguing for strict measures meant to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many in the party have also been caught flagrantly violating those very same restrictions, however — and this week, a startling act by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) was captured on camera.
According to Breitbart, the congressman could be seen removing his face mask momentarily on the House floor on Wednesday before he sneezed directly into his hand.
Video spreads quickly online
Cicilline pulled down his mask as lawmakers discussed the new impeachment effort against President Donald Trump, which was co-written and sponsored by the Rhode Island Democrat. He was also named an impeachment manager by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
The congressman was seated directly behind Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY) while she delivered remarks from a podium, meaning Cicilline could be clearly seen by all who were watching the proceedings as he lowered his face covering, paused for a second, and then sneezed into his hand. He then pulled his mask back into its proper position.
His shocking behavior was widely circulated across social media — along with some pointed criticism from online commentators.
Why remove your mask to sneeze? Come on… pic.twitter.com/Cooy7wJamr
— Matt Karolian🧐 (@mkarolian) January 13, 2021
Democrats push for strict measures
Cicilline reportedly left his seat a short time later, only to return and place the same hand he had just sneezed into directly on Clark’s shoulder. Of course, it is unclear whether he used his brief departure to wash or sanitize his hands.
In any case, the moment went “viral” online — if not in a literal sense.
At the time of the incident, Clark appeared to show no awareness of her colleague’s faux pas. Another Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, who was just a few seats away, shot him a brief but apparently exasperated look before returning to the papers she had collected in front of her.
Even better look at the black woman’s reaction beside him lol 🧐😂 pic.twitter.com/4fpAruH92w
— SOLENYA DA LEGEND🧪 (@RELL_757_ALLEN) January 13, 2021
Cicilline’s own party has pushed for financial penalties for members who refuse to abide by rules regulating the use of face masks and other COVID-19 safeguards. That initiative reportedly came in response to complaints about Republican colleagues who declined face masks while members sheltered in place during last week’s violent storming of the Capitol building by a riotous mob.