Florida Republican becomes first lawmaker to test positive for coronavirus

Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartAnother voice of reason retires Defense contractors ramp up donations to GOP election objectors Bottom line 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 beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision Dental coverage for Medicare recipients divides parties MORE (R-Ga.) and Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseSarah Palin's defamation case against New York Times heads to trial Supreme Court handcuffs Biden on vaccinations House GOP campaign arm rakes in 0M in 2021 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) GaetzMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House Gallego on Jan. 6 rioters: 'F--- them' The Hill's Morning Report - For Biden, it goes from bad to worse MORE (R-Fla.), Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsJan. 6 panel releases contempt report on Trump DOJ official ahead of censure vote Lobbying world Sunday shows preview: Biden administration confronts inflation spike MORE (R-Ga.), and Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarJan. 6 committee subpoenas leaders of 'America First' movement Lawmakers coming under increased threats — sometimes from one another McCarthy says he'll strip Dems of committee slots if GOP wins House MORE (R-Az.), as well as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R-Texas). President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE also tested negative for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Business groups, sensing victory, keep up pressure over tax hikes Kelly raises million in third quarter 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 McConnellBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team McConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 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.