GOP Rep. Doug Collins self-quarantines after exposure to coronavirus patient
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) on Monday announced that he would self-quarantine at his home after coming into contact with a person who later tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Collins is among five members of Congress to disclose that they’re taking the precautionary measure. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) separately said on Sunday that they would self-quarantine until 14 days had passed since interacting with a individual at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said he would self-quarantine after learning he came into contact with the same individual. Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) said that she and her staff would work remotely after learning that she had interacted with a person in Washington, D.C., who tested positive for the virus.
Collins said in a statement that CPAC notified him on Monday that “they discovered a photo of myself and the patient who has tested positive for coronavirus.
“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,” he said.
This afternoon, I was notified by CPAC that they discovered a photo of myself and the patient who has tested positive for #COVID19.
While I am not experiencing any symptoms, I have decided to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution.
Full statement → pic.twitter.com/74oeaYOBYR
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) March 9, 2020
“I will follow the recommendations of the House Physician and my office will provide updates as appropriate,” he added.
The American Conservative Union (ACU) said in a statement on Saturday that a CPAC attendee tested positive for COVID-19 at a New Jersey hospital shortly after attending the convention. ACU said that the patient was exposed to the virus before attending the convention and that he was now under quarantine in the hospital.
The attendee did not come in contact with President Trump or Vice President Pence, ACU said. Though ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp told The Washington Post that he interacted with the patient and then shook Trump’s hand on the last day of the conference.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Monday that Trump wasn’t concerned about the potential of being exposed at the conference, saying that “people are taking appropriate precautions.”
“The president of the United States as we all know is quite a hand washer,” she said.
Collins is a vocal Trump ally and was alongside the president when he, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and others visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last Friday in Atlanta. Collins did not travel with Trump on Air Force One, however. His office said that he received a tour and briefing while visiting the center.
The announcement from Collins arrived as confirmed cases of the coronavirus continued to rapidly increase across the globe, causing stocks to plunge and local governments to implement strict measures designed to withstand an outbreak. The U.S. had confirmed more than 500 COVID-19 cases as of Monday afternoon.
Trump has accused the media of stirring unnecessary fear over the virus. He’s also contradicted U.S. health officials by comparing it to the seasonal flu.
“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” he said on Twitter after global stocks plunged.
Cruz said Sunday that he had a “brief conversation” and shook the hand of the CPAC attendee who later tested positive for the disease. He added that “medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low.”
Gosar said that he and three members of his staff were with the individual “for an extended period of time, and we shook hands several times.”
The ACU has urged any CPAC attendees to contact the organization or the Department of Health for the State of Maryland if they have any questions.
UPDATED 3:57 p.m.