Two Members of Congress Test Positive for Coronavirus

March 19, 2020 by Dan McCue
Rep. Ben McAdams

WASHINGTON  – Rep. Ben McAdams, a Utah Democrat and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, both said Wednesday they had tested positive for coronavirus.

In a statement, Diaz-Balart, the first to announce his condition, said he first developed symptoms, including fever and a headache, Saturday evening.

He said he was notified that he tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday morning.

“I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better,” Diaz-Balart said in the statement. “However, it is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus.”

Diaz-Balart, 58, was elected in 2002 and represents parts of Miami-Dade and Hendry counties.

Shortly after he announced his results, McAdams, a freshman member of Congress, announced that he too was infected.

“On Saturday evening, after returning from Washington D.C., I developed mild cold-like symptoms,” McAdams said in a statement. “In consultation with my doctor on Sunday, I immediately isolated myself in my home. I have been conducting all meetings by telephone. My symptoms got worse and I developed a fever, a dry cough and labored breathing and I remained self-quarantined.”

“I urge Utahns to take this seriously and follow the health recommendations we’re getting from the CDC and other health experts so we can recover from this public health threat,” McAdams said.

The announcements prompted the Office of the Attending Physician in the House to release a statement saying it has been carefully monitoring recent developments involving the two members and confirmed that while ill, they are in “good condition” and “following CDC specified self-isolation guidelines at their homes.”

“My office has taken appropriate actions to identify any individuals who require additional monitoring for periods of quarantine,” Dr. Brian Monahan wrote. “The office has adopted a very conservative guideline to identify individuals who may have come into contact with the ill Members during the pre-symptomatic period of March 13th.

“The office has additionally reviewed possible exposures among staff members and has assessed other areas involving the calendars of the affected individuals. The Office of Attending Physician has identified the offices and locations that were found to be at risk and these have been treated by the Architect of the Capitol, using CDC approved cleaning methods to ensure there is no residual risk to others,” he said.

“Other instances where the affected Members may have briefly come into contact with other colleagues on the House Floor would be considered to be low risk exposures and no additional measures are required other than for them to report any illness should they become ill,” Monahan continued. “It reflects the pace of the COVID-19 disease throughout the United States and its presence here in Washington, D.C. that it has touched the community of the U.S. Capitol.”

The congressmen are now among at least 15 members of Congress who have quarantined or isolated themselves after having contacted infected people. The House is in recess, and many members are back in their home districts.

Joining that list Wednesday night was House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who said he had an extended meeting with Diaz-Balart last week and “out of an abundance of caution, I have decided it would be best to self-quarantine based on the guidance of the Attending Physician of the United States Congress.

“Fortunately, I am not experiencing any symptoms, and will continue working remotely on Congress’ coronavirus response,” Scalise said, adding that he will remain “in close contact with the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, my colleagues in Congress, as well as local officials and health professionals in Louisiana to ensure that swift action to address this crisis continues.”

Others who have isolated include Sen. Ted Cruz and Reps. Matt Gaetz and Doug Collins, who each were in contact with a person at the conservative CPAC conference who tested positive for the disease. Sen. Lindsey Graham, also quarantined himself last week after he was in contact with two people who tested positive. Graham has since tested negative.

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