Sixth member of Congress tests positive for COVID-19

Though Capitol Hill has been reduced to the barest minimum of functionality for several weeks to avoid exposing lawmakers to coronavirus, news of yet another diagnosis rocked Congress on Thursday.

Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL) just confirmed that he was diagnosed with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus on Monday after experiencing symptoms that prompted him to go to the emergency room. 

Official statement

Dunn’s office released a statement confirming that the lawmaker’s case is mild and that he’s continuing to work from home while in quarantine.

“Congressman Dunn is feeling great and currently quarantining himself at home per CDC guidelines and working on Phase IV of the Administration’s response to this pandemic,” the statement read. “He expects a full recovery soon.”

“Congressman Dunn emphasizes that we must continue to do what we can to target vulnerable places and populations to slow the spread of this disease. He is keenly interested in new and faster testing to help everyone understand their risks,” the statement continued.

After Congress worked together to pass the coronavirus relief bill just before April 1, lawmakers scattered in order to avoid the risk of contracting the disease on Capitol Hill. Congress is not expected to reconvene until April 20th, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) indicated on Thursday that the date may be extended even further.

Sixth diagnosis

Dunn joins five other members of Congress that have been diagnosed with COVID-19: Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Joe Cunningham (D-SC), and Mike Kelly (R-PA), and Sen. Rand Paul. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D- NY) said in March that she was diagnosed with a “presumed coronavirus infection,” though no official test results were released.

Sen. Paul confirmed on Tuesday that he’s finally tested negative for the virus after two weeks in quarantine. Paul, a former physician, also announced that he’s begun volunteering at his local hospital to assist in the coronavirus response.

McAdams also announced on Wednesday that he’s cleared to return to normal after a long and difficult battle with the disease. “It hit me really hard,” said the 45-year-old Congressman, who was hospitalized with the illness on March 23rd.

Cunningham was diagnosed after experiencing a loss of taste sensation at the end of March, commonly thought to be an early sign of the disease. He told The State that he sought a test for the virus after a Capitol Hill physician told him he’d come in contact with another representative that had tested positive. Cunningham said he experienced no other symptoms of the illness and is no longer in quarantine.

Diaz-Balart was the first member of Congress to test positive in mid-March and said the virus hit him “like a ton of bricks,” disclosing on March 21st that he was finally feeling better after his initial symptoms appeared a week earlier.

Kelly’s office announced on March 27th that he had tested positive for the virus after experiencing many of the classic symptoms of the infection. Kelly confirmed on Thursday that he is on the mend and expects to be virus-free by the end of next week.

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