Rand Paul, the Republican Senator from Kentucky, has tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the first confirmed member of the United States Senate with the disease. Paul is the third congressman to test positive, serving as a remarkable reminder that Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is spreading across the country.
Paul’s office announced that he tested positive on Twitter on Sunday. His office said he was asymptomatic, quarantined, and feeling well. According to the message, Paul was tested “with an abundance of prudence because of his extensive travels and events’ and was not aware of any direct contact with everyone infected. Paul is expected to be back in the Senate after his quarantine ends.
The Senator’s office added that his DC office started remotely 10 days ago and that “virtually no staff” had contact with Paul. In addition to Paul, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida and Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, also tested positive for Covid-19.
Notably shortly after Paul’s announcement, CNN reported that Republican senators were unsure about their colleague’s diagnosis. Some said that Paul went to the gym on Sunday morning and swam in the Senate pool. Others said he had been very close to others over lunch at the Senate over the past few days.
Paul’s office denied that he had acted irresponsibly and said that he left the Senate immediately after hearing that he had Covid-19.
“He had no contact with anyone and was quarantined. Insinuations like the one below that he went to the gym after hearing about his results are simply utterly false and irresponsible! Paul’s office wrote on Twitter in response to a tweet from a Washington Post reporter.
The Washington Post reports that Paul’s Deputy Chief of Staff Sergio Gor said the Senator received his test results on Sunday morning. Gor said that as soon as Paul got the results, he left the building.
In addition to concerns about Paul’s whereabouts, questions have been raised about how he could get a test since he is asymptomatic. National health officials have said that priority should be given to health professionals, hospital admissions, nursing home residents with symptoms and people over 65, especially people with heart and lung diseases.
POLITICO reports that although Paul was tested out of caution initially, Paul’s staff later said the Senator had attended an event where two people tested positive, although he didn’t recall specific interactions with any of them.
In addition, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) are now self-quarantined after close interactions with Paul. As such, neither Paul, Lee nor Romney can vote on the Senate floor.
Lee said the Capitol attending physician said it was a coronavirus test not necessary in his case because he had no symptoms or other risk factors, Romney’s office said he would be tested even though he has no symptoms. In a statement on TwitterRomney’s office said the senator had been sitting next to Paul for a long time.
Given that several congressmen have tested positive for the coronavirus, it’s likely to have been circulating in Capitol for a while. This is very disturbing since – although convention offices work from home, visitors are limited and tours are canceled – there are hundreds of people in the Capitol every day. This includes Capitol police, food preparation workers and cleaning personnel, per POLITICO.
The fact that the virus has reached the Senate is sobering. According to the Congressional Research Service, the average age of senators is 62.9 years. Almost half Are 65 or older, which means they are Higher risk of developing a serious disease from Covid-19. Some lawmakers have pushed for remote voting, a measure that received support from President Donald Trump at a news conference on Sunday.
The Senate is currently working on a stimulus package in excess of $ 1 trillion to help families and businesses affected by the corona virus pandemic. No agreement had been reached on Sunday.