Florida Republican becomes first lawmaker to test positive for coronavirus

Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartHillicon Valley: Uber lays off 3,000 | FBI unlocks Pensacola shooter's phones | Lawmakers introduce bill restricting purchase of airline equipment from Chinese companies Bipartisan bill would restrict purchases of airport equipment from Chinese companies Red-state cities get cool reception from GOP on relief aid 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 FergusonTrump campaign launches new fundraising program with House Republicans Top Georgia Republican endorses Doug Collins Senate bid House GOP whip team seeks to get Republicans behind Senate coronavirus bill MORE (R-Ga.) and Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScalisePelosi pulls vote on FISA bill after Trump veto threat Hillicon Valley: House FISA bill in jeopardy | Democrats drop controversial surveillance measure | GOP working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections Blue Dogs call for bipartisan investigation into China's handling of coronavirus 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) GaetzTrump to order review of law protecting social media firms after Twitter spat: report On The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions Hillicon Valley: House FISA bill in jeopardy | Democrats drop controversial surveillance measure | GOP working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections MORE (R-Fla.), Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsGOP women's group rolls out endorsements ahead of contested races Bossie, Lewandowski warned Trump he was in trouble in 2020: report The Hill's Campaign Report: GOP beset by convention drama MORE (R-Ga.), and Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarConservative lawmakers press Trump to suspend guest worker programs for a year Impeachment figure among those chosen for Facebook's new oversight board Cruz rebukes San Antonio City Council for denouncing 'Chinese virus' as hate speech MORE (R-Az.), as well as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear projects | Top Dems says State working on new Saudi arms sale | 34-year-old Army reservist ID'd as third military COVID-19 death Trump administration ends waivers in Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran Romney defends Joe Scarborough, staffer's widower: 'Enough already' MORE (R-Texas). President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K coronavirus deaths DOJ: George Floyd death investigation a 'top priority' Lifting our voices — and votes MORE also tested negative for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyPence names new press secretary Bossie, Lewandowski warned Trump he was in trouble in 2020: report The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Cuomo rings the first opening bell since March 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 McConnellMcConnell urges people to wear masks: 'There's no stigma' Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  Lack of child care poses major hurdle as businesses reopen 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.