Rep. Don Beyer to self-quarantine after contact with friend who tested positive for coronavirus

Greg Nash

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said Tuesday he will self-quarantine after he and his wife interacted with a friend who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Beyer said the Virginia Department of Health told him that the friend’s infection began shortly after their contact on Feb. 28 and that his chance of having the virus is low. His office will be closed for almost a week.

“At the request of the public health officials, I will self-quarantine to ensure that I do not pass on any potential illness to others. In the 10 days since that dinner neither of us has shown symptoms, and we understand that the probability that we have an infection is low,” Beyer said in a statement. 

“My office will close for public business and I will not attend votes or hearings until Monday, when medical advisers say I should be clear to return,” he added. 

Beyer said he was disappointed to be away from the Capitol as Congress hammers out a plan to grapple with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak but that he felt compelled to follow the advice of health officials.

“Representing Northern Virginians is an honor and privilege which I love, and I especially hate to be away from the Capitol at this time of national crisis,” he said. “But I feel strongly that one of the most important contributions people in positions of leadership can make at such times is to share the best advice from experts, and where necessary, to model it in our behavior.” 

Beyer is the latest in a string of lawmakers who have announced they will self-quarantine. Among those who are closing their offices are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), all of whom interacted with a person who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and later tested positive for coronavirus.

Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) also said Monday that an individual she met with in Washington, D.C., tested positive for the coronavirus and that she and some of her staff would self-quarantine out of “abundance of absolute caution.”

The growing list has led to calls on Capitol Hill that lawmakers should leave Washington and return home to the safety of their districts, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) shot down the idea.

“We are the captains of the ship. We are the last to leave,” she told her caucus in a closed-door meeting. 

Observers have speculated that lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who skews older, could be particularly at risk from the coronavirus. Two-thirds of senators are older than 60, and the average age of House members is 57.6 years.

Tags Coronavirus Doug Collins Julia Brownley Mark Meadows Matt Gaetz Nancy Pelosi Paul Gosar self-quarantine Ted Cruz

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