New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a member of House Democratic leadership, announced on Monday that he will self-quarantine after an interaction with an infected individual.
As lawmakers on Capitol Hill grapple with how to contain the spread of coronavirus across the United States, 11 members of Congress have announced steps to either self-quarantine or otherwise isolate themselves as a precaution after coming into contact with an infected individual.
Five Republican lawmakers — Republican Sen. Ted Cruz along with Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Doug Collins of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Mark Meadows of North Carolina — opted to self-quarantine after interacting with an individual at the Conservative Political Action Conference who has tested positive for coronavirus. Gaetz announced on March 10 that his test results came back negative.
Three other Democrats have also taken precautionary measures.
California Rep. Julia Brownley announced on March 9 that she and her staff started working remotely after finding out that she recently came into contact with someone who tested positive.
A day later, on March 10, Virginia Rep. Don Beyer announced that he would self-quarantine after learning that a friend he interacted with recently tested positive.
Republican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina announced on March 12 that they were self-quarantining. Graham announced on March 15 that his test was negative.
On March 16, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky announced that he tested negative for coronavirus following an interaction he had with an individual who had tested positive.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas initially announced that he had been notified that he was in contact with an individual at CPAC who tested positive and is showing symptoms. In a statement, Cruz said that “the interaction consisted of a brief conversation and a handshake.”
Cruz said that he is “not experiencing any symptoms, and I feel fine and healthy,” and that “medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low.”
But despite that, the senator said that “out of an abundance of caution,” he has “decided to remain at my home in Texas this week until a full 14 days have passed since the CPAC interaction.”
Now, however, he is extending that self-quarantine after a second interaction with an individual who tested positive.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced on Friday that he will extend his self-quarantine until March 17 after “a second interaction” with an individual who tested positive for coronavirus.
In a statement, Cruz said that his initial period of self-quarantine came to an end Thursday afternoon. But said, “Unfortunately, last night I was informed I had a second interaction with an individual who yesterday tested positive for COVID-19.”
“On March 3, I met in my D.C. office with Santiago Abascal, the leader of the Vox Party in Spain,” he said, adding, “My understanding is that Mr. Abascal tested positive for COVID-19 last night.”
Cruz said that while he is “still not feeling any symptoms,” he has decided “out of an abundance of caution and to give everyone peace of mind — I am extending the self-quarantine to March 17, a full fourteen days from my meeting with Mr. Abascal.”
A message posted to Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz’s Twitter account on Monday stated that the congressman found out on Monday that he came into contact with an individual at CPAC who had tested positive.
“While the congressman is not experiencing symptoms, he received testing today and expects the results soon,” the message stated, going on to say, “Under doctor’s usual precautionary recommendations, he’ll remain self-quarantined until the 14-day period expires this week.”
Gaetz announced on Tuesday that his test results came back negative, but said he would remain in self-quarantine until Thursday “in an abundance of caution.”
“I’ve just been informed that my COVID-19 lab result was negative. In an abundance of caution, I will remain under self-quarantine at the advice of medical professionals through Thursday at 2pm. I continue to feel fine and show no symptoms,” he tweeted.
Gaetz rode on Air Force Once with President Donald Trump on Monday and spent the weekend at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property.
He also made headlines last week when he wore a gas mask onto the House floor while lawmakers voted to approve emergency funding to combat coronavirus.
Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia announced on Monday that CPAC contacted him to tell him that a photo of him and the conference attendee who tested positive had been found, indicating they interacted.
“While I feel completely healthy and I am not experiencing any symptoms, I have decided to self-quarantine at my home for the remainder of the 14-day period out of an abundance of caution,” Collins said in a statement.
Like Gaetz, Collins also had recent interactions with the President. Collins shook hands with Trump when the President visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta last week.
Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona put out a statement on Sunday saying that he was similarly notified that during CPAC he was in contact with an individual who had tested positive.
The congressman said that he shook hands with the individual “several times” and was with the person “for an extended period of time.”
Gosar said that he is “not currently experiencing any symptoms,” but “in order to prevent any potential transmission, I will remain at my home in Arizona until the conclusion of the 14 day period following my interaction with this individual.”
Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley of California put out a statement on Monday saying that she has been informed that “an individual I met with last week in DC tested positive for COVID-19.”
“I have decided to close our DC office for the week,” the congresswoman said, adding, “My staff and I are working remotely.”
“Out of an abundance of absolute caution, my DC staff and I are self-monitoring and maintaining social distancing practices. Neither I, nor my staff, are experiencing any symptoms at this time,” Brownley said.
Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina opted to self-quarantine after learning this weekend that he might have interacted with the CPAC attendee who tested positive for the coronavirus, according to his chief of staff Ben Williamson.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Meadows received testing which came back negative,” Williamson said in statement. “While he’s experiencing zero symptoms, under doctors’ standard precautionary recommendations, he’ll remain at home until the 14 day period expires this Wednesday.”
An official told CNN that Meadows — Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff — was not scheduled to start his new job this week.
Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia said in a statement on Tuesday that he will self-quarantine after having dinner with an individual who later tested positive for coronavirus.
“This afternoon my wife Megan and I were contacted by the Virginia Department of Health to share details with us about the illness of a friend who tested positive for COVID-19 after dining with us. They informed us that the timeline of his infection began shortly after our contact on February 28,” Beyer said.
He went on to say, “At the request of the public health officials, I will self-quarantine to ensure that I do not pass on any potential illness to others. In the 10 days since that dinner neither of us has shown symptoms, and we understand that the probability that we have an infection is low.”
“My office will close for public business and I will not attend votes or hearings until Monday, when medical advisers say I should be clear to return,” Beyer added.
Beyer has been on Capitol Hill this week, meeting with members and interacting with reporters.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, a first-term Republican, announced on Thursday that he will self-quarantine after potentially coming into contact with a member of the Brazilian delegation who tested positive for coronavirus. The press secretary for Brazilian President tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, two sources have told CNN, just days after meeting with the President.
“On Monday, I met with the President in Miami, and while I do not believe I interacted with the infected person, that individual was in the same room as me,” Scott said in a statement.
“After consulting with the Senate’s attending physician and my personal doctor, I have been told that my risk is low, and I don’t need to take a test or quarantine. However, the health and safety of the American people is my focus and I have made the decision to self-quarantine in an abundance of caution,” Scott added.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham announced on Twitter Sunday night that his test was negative.
“I look forward to getting back to work with my Senate colleagues and President Trump to contain this virus and stabilize our economy,” the Republican senator added.
Graham’s office had released a statement on Thursday saying that “Senator Graham was at Mar-a-Lago last weekend. He has no recollection of direct contact with the President of Brazil, who is awaiting results of a coronavirus test, or his spokesman who tested positive.”
But, “in an abundance of caution and upon the advice of his doctor, Senator Graham has decided to self-quarantine awaiting the results of a coronavirus test.” The statement described the move as a “a precautionary measure” and said that Graham will “continue to work from home.”
It’s unclear how Graham was able to be tested as testing shortages abound across the country and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends those who are exhibiting symptoms be tested. Health officials have stressed that a negative test doesn’t mean a person won’t later test positive as the virus replicates in their system.
Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky announced on March 15 that he was self-quarantining after an interaction with someone who later tested positive.
“Late yesterday, I was informed that, one week ago, I was in the presence of an individual who has since tested positive for COVID-10,” he wrote. “This individual displayed no obvious symptoms at the time of our contact.”
On March 16, Yarmuth announced that his test results were negative.
“My #COVID19 test results came back NEGATIVE,” he tweeted, adding, “I plan to continue working from home and will avoid going out in order to do my part as we all work to practice safe and precautionary distancing to help defeat this pandemic.”
Ben Ray Luján
Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, a member of House Democratic leadership, said on March 16 that he will self-quarantine after an interaction with an infected individual.
A statement from his office said, “Congressman Luján is exhibiting no symptoms, and health professionals have advised that the congressman is at a low probability for infection. He first learned of the individual’s diagnosis Sunday afternoon. Still, out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of the public, the congressman has chosen to self-quarantine.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.