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South Carolina Republican tests positive for coronavirus hours after speaking on House floor

South Carolina Republican tests positive for coronavirus hours after speaking on House floor
© Greg Nash

South Carolina Rep. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonBiden faces deadline pressure on Iran deal Top Republican congressional aide resigns, rips GOP lawmakers who objected to Biden win READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R) on Wednesday announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 just hours after speaking on the House floor about the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed and the beginnings of vaccine distribution across the country. 

“Earlier this evening I learned that I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Wilson said in a statement Wednesday. “I will be taking all necessary precautions, as directed by the House Physician, including quarantining through the Christmas holiday.” 

“Thankfully I feel fine and do not have any symptoms,” the GOP congressman added. “It is so important that we all do our part to help prevent the spread of this virus.”

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Earlier Wednesday, Wilson appeared on the House floor to praise the development of a coronavirus vaccine, quoting a Washington Times editorial saying, “The life-saving COVID-19 vaccine that he [President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE] promised to deliver has arrived in record time. Hallelujah.”

“‘Promises made, promises kept,’ Mr. Trump likes to say. That’s the can-do spirit that makes America special. Just in time for Christmas, the fruits of ‘Operation Warp Speed’ are starting to bring joy to the world,” the editorial goes on to say. 

Wilson’s remarks came after health care workers began receiving the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday following emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week. 

Wilson, 73, is the latest in a series of lawmakers from both parties to test positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks. 

Reps. Rick AllenRichard (Rick) Wayne AllenCapitol Police investigate report Maryland GOP Rep. Andy Harris tried to bring gun on House floor Georgia elections chief refutes election claims in letter to Congress READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-Ga.) and Susie LeeSuzanne (Susie) Kelley LeeMORE (D-Nev.) announced separately last month that they had contracted the virus. Days earlier, two other House members, Reps. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) and Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyOvernight Defense: NATO expanding troops in Iraq South Carolina Republican tests positive for coronavirus hours after speaking on House floor Rep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Conn.), both announced that they tested positive. 

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In total, at least 11 senators and 36 House members have tested positive for COVID-19 or for its antibodies since the start of the pandemic, according to CNN

While Pfizer has said it has manufactured enough of the vaccine to administer at least 25 million doses to the United States before the end of the year, health care workers and higher risk populations are being prioritized in the initial distribution of the vaccine. Experts predict that it will not be widely available to the general public until the spring or summer of 2021. 

The vaccine candidate developed by Moderna is also being considered for FDA emergency use approval this week. 

As of Wednesday, the U.S. had approximately 16.9 million total cases of COVID-19, with more than 307,000 fatalities due to the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.