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Florida Republican becomes first lawmaker to test positive for coronavirus

Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartBottom line GOP lawmakers ask Biden administration for guidance on reopening cruise industry The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Biden delivers 100 million shots in 58 days, doses to neighbors 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 frustration with Liz Cheney 'at a boiling point' Tornado leaves at least 1 dead in Newnan, Georgia GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Ga.) and Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseConservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney Hillicon Valley: Trump's Facebook ban to stay in place, board rules | Facebook board's Trump decision pleases no one | Republicans float support for antitrust reform Kinzinger hits GOP on 'operation #coverupJan6' over Cheney ouster plot 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) GaetzCornyn is most prolific tweeter in Congress so far in 2021 GOP frustration with Liz Cheney 'at a boiling point' Hillicon Valley: DOJ to review cyber challenges | Gaetz, House Republicans want to end funding for postal service surveillance | TikTok gets new CEO MORE (R-Fla.), Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Census winners and losers; House GOP huddles Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race Kemp faces uphill battle overcoming Trump's rage MORE (R-Ga.), and Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarGaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program 136 Republicans get Fs in accountability rankings from anti-Trump GOP group House rejects GOP resolution to censure Waters MORE (R-Az.), as well as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  The Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won Hawley says Cheney 'spiraling,' 'out-of-step' amid Trump backlash MORE (R-Texas). President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Ivanka Trump doubles down on vaccine push with post celebrating second shot Conservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE also tested negative for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArizona state senator announces bid for Kirkpatrick's seat Democratic Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick says she won't seek reelection Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain 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 McConnellThe Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won Biden: GOP in the midst of a 'mini-revolution' Ernst defends Cheney, calls for GOP unity 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.