This afternoon Rep Mario Diaz-Balart became the first member of Congress to announce he had tested positive for the coronavirus. However only a short time later Rep. Ben McAdams announced he had also tested positive.
Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Florida, released a statement about his diagnosis which said he had voted last Friday but then decided to self-quarantine in DC because his wife has a pre-existing condition that would put her at risk. By Saturday he developed symptoms and today he was notified he had tested positive. In a tweet, Diaz-Balart said he’s “feeling much better.”
I'm feeling much better. However, it's important that everyone take this seriously and follow @CDCgov guidelines in order to avoid getting sick & mitigate the spread of this virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times. pic.twitter.com/g5W5vSQIyH
— Mario Diaz-Balart (@MarioDB) March 18, 2020
Diaz-Balart says he self-quarantined as of Friday but NPR reports he voted on Saturday morning. The fact that he was in contact with other lawmakers either the day before or possibly on the day he came down with symptoms could lead other lawmakers to self-quarantine:
Thus far, at least 14 other lawmakers have announced steps to self-quarantine or otherwise isolate themselves as a precaution after coming into contact with an infected individual.
The news could set off a new wave of self-quarantine measures from lawmakers that may have interacted with Diaz-Balart, who decided to self-quarantine after participating in House votes on Friday.
Less than two hours after Rep. Diaz-Balart announced his diagnosis, Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah also announced he had tested positive after returning home from Washington, DC on Saturday.
— Ben McAdams UT (@BenMcAdamsUT) March 19, 2020
The solution to avoid this spreading any further is to allow members to vote remotely. At least one member of Congress is already reacting to today’s news by renewing that suggestion:
In. Person. Voting. Should. Be. Reconsidered.
For the safety of our communities, during this emergency, we must be able to legislate from our districts. https://t.co/CjzEM68J8g
— Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (@RepDMP) March 19, 2020
Also today, a spokesman for RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced she had been tested for the virus and, fortunately, her test was negative.
On the advice of her doctor, @GOPChairwoman was administered a test for COVID-19.
That test has fortunately come back negative.
— Michael Ahrens (@michaelahrens) March 18, 2020
Two congressional staffers have so far tested positive for the virus. One worked for Rep. Dave Schweikert and the other for Sen. Maria Cantwell.