Republican Senator, 2 congressmen tests positive to coronavirus
A Republican Senator and 2 congressmen have tested positive to coronavirus.
The Republican Senator Rand Paul, who voted against two emergency coronavirus spending bills this month, has tested positive for Covid-19 and is in quarantine, according to a post on his Twitter account.
He’s the first U.S. senator, and third member of Congress, known to have become infected.
On March 18, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, and Representative Ben McAdams, Democrat of Utah, both revealed they had been diagnosed as positive.
The three join more than 31,000 other Americans known to have the virus, according to a running tally from Johns Hopkins University. Some 390 have died in the U.S. Globally, cases have exceeded 328,000 with over 14,000 deaths.
Utah Senator Mike Lee, said he would self-quarantine for 14 days — which means “no traveling or voting” — on the advice of the Attending Physician of the U.S. Congress.
Paul, the Kentucky lawmaker, was tested “out of an abundance of caution” due to his extensive travel and events, according to the tweet.
Paul and Lee will miss a vote expected Monday on a bill to provide some $2 trillion in direct and indirect stimulus to the U.S. economy as it reels from the widening effects of the pandemic.
Senators must be present to vote, and current rules don’t allow remote voting — although pressure is mounting for that to change.
“The responsibility of the Senate is to remain open,” Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, said on Twitter. “Remote voting must be instituted immediately.”
Paul, 57, is feeling fine and isn’t aware of any direct contact with any infected person, his Twitter message said. Symptoms of the virus can include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath.
A follow-up tweet said he expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period has ended, and that virtually no staff has had contact with the senator in the past 10 days, when his D.C. office began working remotely.
On March 18, Paul was among a handful of Republican lawmakers to opposed a $100 billion stimulus package to offset the impact of Covid-19 on the U.S. economy. The measure was approved 90-8 and signed into law by President Donald Trump.
Earlier this month, Paul was the lone vote against an $8 billion emergency spending package aimed at boosting funds for testing and lowering the cost of certain related medical treatments. He proposed an amendment that offset some of the costs of the legislation with cuts elsewhere, which was rejected.
The senator’s father, former Texas Representative Ron Paul, has been one of final holdouts among coronavirus skeptics as the impact of the pandemic has broadened this month and state governments have ramped up their response.
The 2012 Republican presidential candidate penned a column entitled “The Coronavirus Hoax,” dated March 16.
“Governments love crises because when the people are fearful they are more willing to give up freedoms for promises that the government will take care of them,” the elder Paul wrote.
He termed Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, “the chief fearmonger of the Trump administration.”