Coronavirus hits Capitol Hill as 2 GOP lawmakers ‘self-quarantine’


The coronavirus crisis is starting to hit Capitol Hill as two Republican lawmakers announced Sunday they were were in “self-quarantine” following their exposure to an infected individual at a recent gathering of conservative activists.

While neither lawmaker has been diagnosed with the disease, the two cases show that Congress — like the rest of the country — is having to grapple with the growing outbreak.

Congressional leadership offices said there has been no change in the congressional schedule at this point, although numerous lawmakers are contacting party leaders with questions, concerns and suggestions for responding to the growing crisis. And with many lawmakers in the most endangered category for coronavirus exposure — individuals over age 60 who travel or attend public events — Congress may have a uniquely difficult time responding to the situation.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) annouced on Twittter that he is under self-quarantine after having interacted with the person who tested positive for coronavirus at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. Cruz will stay in Texas this week and not return to Capitol Hill for votes.

In a statement released on Twitter, Cruz wrote that he was informed of the interaction on Saturday night, and that he had engaged in a brief conversation and handshake with the affected individual.

Cruz said he had consulted with several medical authorities — some at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services — as well as Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the newly minted White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

“I’m not experiencing any symptoms, and I feel fine and healthy,” Cruz said in the statement. “Given that the interaction was 10 days ago, that the average incubation period is 5-6 days, that the interaction was for less than a minute, and that I have no current symptoms, the medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low.”

Cruz added that physicians advised him that the interaction did not meet the CDC criteria for self-quarantine. However, “out of an abundance of caution” for his constituents, Cruz said, he decided to remain in his Texas home for a full 14 days.

Cruz has been one of several coronavirus “hawks” in the Senate. He called for a China travel ban in January, has consistently raised questions about U.S. preparedness and held a subcommittee hearing just four days ago on how global travel could fuel the spread of the virus.

The CPAC attendee who tested positive for coronavirus was infected before the conference at Maryland‘s National Harbor. The American Conservative Union, which puts on CPAC, said on Saturday that the individual was tested at a New Jersey hospital and quarantined in that state.

Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican of Arizona, is also under self-quarantine, along with three of his senior staff, after “sustained contact” with the affected individual at CPAC, the Arizona Republican tweeted Sunday. Gosar said although he and his staff members “feel great,” they are being proactive and cautious. His office will be closed for the week.

President Donald Trump and Pence — who said on Saturday that he had not been tested for coronavirus — attended the conference. So did several administration and Cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Meadows and two of the president’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.


2 thoughts on “Coronavirus hits Capitol Hill as 2 GOP lawmakers ‘self-quarantine’

  1. ‘While neither lawmaker has been diagnosed with the disease, the two cases show that Congress — like the rest of the country — is having to grapple with the growing outbreak.’ ….uh huh ………….part of the show…
    VP Pence announced ‘if you are a healthy adult the risk is very low’…….sounds like the usual seasonal flu warning

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