There are various articles floating around noting that incumbent Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces "tight margins" for the Speaker's election, especially since the coronavirus pandemic may force some members into self-isolation, resulting in them unable to be physically present on the floor to vote on January 3.
From The Hill:
“Let's say, just theoretically, we had six or eight people out with Covid and the Republicans have none. They probably could elect [Kevin] McCarthy,” said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), referring to the House GOP leader.
While such a scenario is unlikely to materialise, theoretically, is it realistic for Kevin McCarthy to be elected the Speaker of the House? Is there any mechanism that allows for the Speaker's election to be delayed if the Democrats do not have enough members present on the floor for the vote on January 3?
I'm aware that even if Kevin McCarthy is elected Speaker, his tenure will probably be temporary since the Speaker can be removed by a majority vote in the House at a later date. I'm asking whether McCarthy has a realistic chance of being elected Speaker, even if it is temporary, or whether the House can delay the Speaker's election.