House chairwoman diagnosed with 'presumed' coronavirus infection

 

House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said Monday that she has been diagnosed with a "presumed" case of the coronavirus, although she has not been officially tested.

Velázquez, who was in the Capitol on Friday, said in a statement that she began to experience symptoms of muscle aches, fever, nasal congestion and stomach upset early Sunday morning. She also said she lost her sense of taste and smell, which is another symptom increasingly associated with the coronavirus.

The New York lawmaker, who turned 67 on Saturday, said the House attending physician advised that neither a lab test to confirm she had the coronavirus nor a visit to a doctor was necessary.

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"After speaking with the Attending Physician by phone, I was diagnosed with presumed coronavirus infection. My symptoms are mild at the present time and I am taking Tylenol for fever, and isolating myself at my home," Velázquez said.

"I am carefully monitoring my symptoms, working remotely and in constant contact with my staff," she added.

Velázquez's case is all the more notable given that she was in the Capitol on Friday to participate in the House floor debate on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. She also joined House committee and party leaders in a ceremony afterward, during which Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi Sunday shows preview: Leaders weigh in as country erupts in protest over George Floyd death 5 things to know about US-China tensions over Hong Kong Pelosi calls Trump's decision to withdraw US from WHO 'an act of extraordinary senselessness' MORE (D-Calif.) signed the legislation to send over to the White House.

Velázquez's presence in the Capitol raises the risk that anyone she came into contact with could have been exposed to her illness.

House officials enacted physical distancing and disinfecting guidelines for lawmakers and staff in the chamber, including requiring everyone to use hand sanitizer and wiping down microphones with disinfecting wipes after use.

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Lawmakers also sat at least one seat apart, while some even sat up in the visitors' galleries overlooking the House chamber.

The House passed the stimulus package by voice vote, though party leaders still had to call members back to Washington to ensure they could establish a quorum to override a demand from Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse holds first-ever proxy votes during pandemic House GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting House adopts historic rules changes to allow remote voting MORE (R-Ky.) for a roll-call vote.

They wanted to pass the bill by voice vote to avoid making all 430 House members travel to Washington and congregate together, thereby risking exposure to the virus.

At the signing ceremony Velázquez attended, all committee chairmen and party leaders made a point of standing apart.

Four House members have tested positive for the coronavirus: Reps. 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-Fla.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamGun control group rolls out House endorsements The Hill's Campaign Report: DOJ, intel to be major issues in 2020 Human Rights Campaign rolls out congressional endorsements on Equality Act anniversary MORE (D-S.C.) and Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyHouse lawmaker among officials, businesses in Pa. filing suit over state's coronavirus shutdown Florida Republican becomes sixth member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus House chairwoman diagnosed with 'presumed' coronavirus infection MORE (R-Pa.).

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSecond senator tests positive for coronavirus antibodies Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks Tim Kaine tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies MORE (R-Ky.) is so far the only senator to test positive for the virus.