The New York Post reports that a Senate staffer has tested positive for COVID-19, the first figure on Capitol Hill known to have contracted the coronavirus disease.
The staffer, who was not named, reportedly works for Democrat Maria Cantwell (WA). While the senator said in a statement that the staffer “has had no known contact with the senator or other lawmakers,” her office will be closed for the rest of the week, the Post reported.
Coronavirus at the Capitol?
Little else is known about the Cantwell staffer who reportedly has COVID-19, but the senator has urged others on her payroll to get tested in light of the news, according to the Post. Meanwhile, several other members of Congress are getting tested themselves after it was discovered last week that an attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington had tested positive for the virus.
As the Post notes, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was among those who went into a voluntary two-week quarantine when he learned that he had come in contact with the individual at CPAC.
“I’m not experiencing any symptoms, and I feel fine and healthy,” the Texas senator wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter on Saturday.
He went on: “Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, and because of how frequently I interact with my constituents as part of my job and to give everyone peace of mind, I have decided to remain at my home in Texas this week, until a full 14 days have passed since the CPAC interaction.”
“An abundance of caution”
Others to impose self-quarantines included Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R) and Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, who tested negative for COVID-19 but said, “in an abundance of caution,” he’ll “remain under self-quarantine at the advice of medical professionals through Thursday.”
“I continue to feel fine and show no symptoms,” Gaetz added in a tweet.
Gosar, who closed his office for the week, said Tuesday that three of his senior staffers are also isolating themselves “after sustained contact at CPAC with a person who has since been hospitalized with the Wuhan Virus.”
“The last to leave”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that those over the age of 60 are most at risk of developing serious complications from coronavirus, and a large number of lawmakers fall into that category. Some, like California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), are in their 80s.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who is 72, recently proposed closing down the House and breaking for a recess due to concerns about the virus, according to a report from The Hill, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) shot down the idea during a closed-door meeting among Democrats this week.
“We are the captains of the ship. We are the last to leave,” the 79-year-old House speaker said, according to The Hill.