GOP Sen. Thom Tillis tests positive for coronavirus
Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.) said on Friday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the second GOP senator who was at the White House on Saturday to be diagnosed with the virus.
“Over the last few months, I’ve been routinely tested for COVID-19, including testing negative last Saturday, but tonight my rapid antigen test came back positive,” Tillis said in a statement.
The news of Tillis’s diagnosis comes as Washington was upended after President Trump disclosed that he had tested positive for the virus, jolting an already chaotic election year.
Tillis, who said he is currently asymptomatic, is the fourth senator known to have tested positive, and the second member of the Judiciary Committee.
Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) both announced they had tested positive in March and August, respectively. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who was also at the White House event on Saturday and was seen not wearing a mask, announced earlier Friday that he had tested positive.
“I will be following the recommendations of my doctor and will be self-isolating at home for 10 days and notifying those I’ve been in close contact with,” said Tillis, who was seen in photos wearing a mask at the White House event.
Tillis, like Lee, participated in committee meetings and caucus lunches in the Capitol this week, and also interacted with reporters.
Tillis is in the final stretch of a tough reelection fight against Democratic nominee Cal Cunningham, who has led the GOP senator in several recent polls. The two men faced off in a debate Thursday night. Cunningham said in a tweet Friday night that he will now get tested.
Tillis’s campaign said Friday night that staffers who were around the senator will now quarantine.
“The Tillis campaign staffers who were exposed to the Senator this week will now quarantine and will receive tests in the coming days. Our Charlotte campaign headquarters is now closed and we are halting all in-person campaign events until further notice,” said campaign manager Luke Blanchat. “Additionally, we are reaching out to any individuals who may have come into contact with Senator Tillis during the campaign events we held this week.”
The diagnosis for Tillis and Lee is injecting fresh uncertainty into the GOP timeline for trying to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) both pledged earlier Friday that they would move ahead with Barrett’s nomination as planned, with a hearing set to start Oct. 12.
“Just finished a great phone call with @POTUS. He’s in good spirits and we talked business — especially how impressed Senators are with the qualifications of Judge Barrett. Fullsteam ahead with the fair, thorough, timely process that the nominee, the Court, & the country deserve,” McConnell said in a tweet.
Just finished a great phone call with @POTUS. He’s in good spirits and we talked business — especially how impressed Senators are with the qualifications of Judge Barrett. Full steam ahead with the fair, thorough, timely process that the nominee, the Court, & the country deserve.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) October 2, 2020
Updated: 11:32 p.m.