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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 PelosiTrump predicts GOP will win the House Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs | On The Money: Pelosi cites progress, but says COVID-19 relief deal might be post-election | Eviction crisis sparked by pandemic disproportionately hits minorities | Weekly jobless claims fall to 787K 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 in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power Ron Paul hospitalized in Texas GOP lawmaker praises Kyle Rittenhouse's 'restraint' for not emptying magazine during shooting 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-BalartMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Democratic Rep. Carbajal tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Fla.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test Chamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-S.C.) and Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Democratic Rep. Carbajal tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Pa.).

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate MORE (R-Ky.) is so far the only senator to test positive for the virus.