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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 shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 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.

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

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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 MassieCan members of Congress carry firearms on the Capitol complex? Republicans rally to keep Cheney in power House Republicans gear up for conference meeting amid party civil war 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-BalartFlorida Republicans push Biden to implement Trump order on Venezuela Here are the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the Equality Act Bottom line MORE (R-Fla.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamLobbying world We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money Chamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win MORE (D-S.C.) and Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellySupreme Court won't review Pennsylvania GOP election lawsuits Pennsylvania's Democratic lt. governor files to run for Senate READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-Pa.).

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Health Care: 50 million coronavirus vaccines given | Pfizer news | Biden health nominees Rand Paul criticized for questioning of transgender health nominee Haley isolated after Trump fallout MORE (R-Ky.) is so far the only senator to test positive for the virus.