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Cruz, Cotton close Senate offices

Cruz, Cotton close Senate offices
© Bonnie Cash

Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection More conservatives break with Trump over election claims MORE (R-Ark.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE (R-Texas) said on Thursday that they will temporarily close their offices after a staffer in Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Senate advances energy regulator nominees despite uncertainty of floor vote OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Esper reportedly working with lawmakers to strip Confederate names from bases | Enemy attacks in Afghanistan jump by 50 percent, watchdog says | Fort Hood soldier arrested, charged in Chelsea Cheatham killing MORE’s (D-Wash.) office tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The decisions underscore the growing concern about a widespread outbreak on Capitol Hill, which got its first confirmed case on Wednesday night.

“In response to reports that an aide from another Senate office has tested positive for COVID-19, Sen. Cruz has temporarily closed the D.C. office out of an abundance of caution to protect the health and welfare of staff, constituents, and colleagues in Congress,” Cruz’s office said in a statement.

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Cruz is currently quarantined after being exposed to an individual with the virus; the rest of his staff will work remotely. The senator's office says he is healthy, and his self-quarantine is scheduled to end Thursday night.

Cotton added in a statement that he was closing his office "effectively immediately."

"An aide in another Senate office has tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus; other congressional employees are likely to test positive in the days ahead. The most sensible course of action for the public and the congressional workforce under the circumstances is for my staff to telecommute," Cotton added.

Cotton said his Washington, D.C., office will remain closed throughout a one-week recess set to start on Monday.

Neither Cotton's nor Cruz's office are in the same Senate office building as Cantwell — the GOP senators offices are in Russell, Cantwell's is in Hart — but the decision underscores the growing anxiety on Capitol Hill. 

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It's the latest change as staff and lawmakers try to prevent a widespread outbreak on Capitol Hill. The advanced age of most lawmakers, as well as the close proximity they have to tourists, has sparked days of anxiety about what if, any steps, would be taken to limit access to the building. 

Cantwell announced that she was closing her office for a deep clean after a staffer tested positive.

The Capitol is also set to suspend all tours until April and limit who can access the House and Senate office buildings.

"We are taking this temporary action out of concern for the health and safety of congressional employees as well as the public. We appreciate the understanding of those with planned visits interrupted by this necessary, but prudent, decision," Paul Irving, the House sergeant at arms, and Michael Stenger, the Senate sergeant at arms, said in a joint statement.

—Updated at 10:48 a.m.