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Florida Republican becomes first lawmaker to test positive for coronavirus

Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartEPA sued over plans to give Florida authority over managing wetlands, waterways Bottom line READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R) announced Wednesday he tested positive for COVID-19 after developing symptoms Saturday.

He is the first member of Congress to test positive for the novel coronavirus. Shortly after his announcement another House member, Rep. Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah), 45, announced he had also tested positive for the virus.

Diaz-Balart, 58, has been in self-quarantine in his Washington, D.C., apartment since Friday.

"On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms, including a fever and a headache.  Just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19," read a statement released by his office.

According to the statement, Diaz-Balart did not return to Florida "out of an abundance of caution."

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Diaz-Balart's wife, Tia, is a cancer and chronic lung disease survivor, both "conditions that put her at exceptionally high risk."

"I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better," said Diaz-Balart in a statement.

"However, it is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times," added Diaz-Balart.

Several other lawmakers, including Reps. Drew FergusonAnderson (Drew) Drew FergusonGOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 GOP sees path to House majority in 2022 Colorado Democrat Ed Perlmutter tests positive for coronavirus MORE (R-Ga.) and Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse GOP lawmaker: Trump 'put all of our lives at risk' Scalise labels Capitol rioting 'domestic terrorism' Tensions flare between House Republicans, Capitol Police over metal detectors MORE (R-La.) said they would self-quarantine after receiving the news.

“I have just been informed that my colleague, Mario Diaz-Balart, tested positive for COVID-19. Since I had an extended meeting with him late last week, out of an abundance of caution, I have decided it would be best to self-quarantine based on the guidance of the Attending Physician of the United States Congress," Scalise said.

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Both Scalise and Ferguson said they were showing no symptoms and would continue to work from home. 

 

Although Diaz-Balart is the first lawmaker to test positive, several have previously self-isolated and undergone testing after possible exposure to the virus, including multiple Republicans who were present at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where they interacted with a person who later tested positive.

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These lawmakers included Reps. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzFlorida Republicans close ranks with Trump after Capitol siege The Memo: Historic vote leaves Trump more isolated than ever Top Republican congressional aide resigns, rips GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden win MORE (R-Fla.), Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsDrudge congratulates Warnock, says Ann Coulter should have been GOP candidate Warnock defeats Loeffler in Georgia Senate runoff Warnock says he needs to win 'by comfortable margin' because 'funny things go on' MORE (R-Ga.), and Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarCruz, Cornyn to attend Biden inauguration Trust between lawmakers reaches all-time low after Capitol riots House conservatives plot to oust Liz Cheney MORE (R-Az.), as well as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump allies, Washington insiders helped plan rallies before Capitol breach: reports What Martin Luther King, at 39, taught me at 35 GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE (R-Texas). President TrumpDonald TrumpGiuliani used provisional ballot to vote in 2020 election, same method he disparaged in fighting to overturn results Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president Fox News' DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire MORE also tested negative for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyCindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' Arizona state GOP moves to censure Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed MORE (R-Az.) announced Wednesday that she will suspend advertising and canvassing for her re-election bid amid the pandemic.

“Members of Congress and candidates around the country should join me in this call for a national moratorium on ‘us vs. them.’ We need social distancing from our usual corners, and we need to look at each other as fellow Americans and with a servant’s heart, not with a politically jaundiced eye,”  she said in a statement Wednesday.

Concerns over the spread of the virus have proliferated in the Capitol, where the close quarters and advanced age and travel schedules of many lawmakers mean members of Congress could be especially susceptible to the disease.

That prompted the House to delay its return from recess, which was set for Monday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat would MLK say about Trump and the Republican Party? Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE (R-Ky.) has encouraged social distancing and has lengthened votes from 15 to 30 minutes to allow fewer people at a time to be in the chamber, but said he opposed the idea of allowing remote voting.

"We'll not be doing that. There are a number of different ways to avoid getting too many people together," McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

Updated at 8:47 p.m.