The deadly coronavirus has over 110,000 confirmed cases around the world, as well as over 3,800 deaths. In the last week and a half, there have been the first reported cases in the United States. Days later, there are 539 U.S. cases across 34 states. Now, the COVID-19 is putting a scare into politicians on Capitol Hill.
On Sunday night, two U.S. congressmen revealed that they are going to self-quarantine after coming in contact with someone infected with the lethal respiratory disease. Both congress members are Republicans who encountered the individual with a positive coronavirus diagnosis at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference over a week ago.
Senator Ted Cruz from Texas announced on Twitter that he is under self-quarantine for the next two weeks after being informed that he came in contact with a person who was later tested positive for the COVID-19. The encounter was made at CPAC, which ran from February 26-29.
In Cruz’s statement, he revealed that he learned about the confirmed case on Saturday night. The senator and the infected individual had a “brief conversation and a handshake” at the Maryland event 10 days ago.
Health officials advised Cruz “that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low,” and his “brief interaction with the individual does not meet the CDC criteria for self-quarantine.”
Sen. Cruz emphasized that he’s not experiencing any symptoms and feels “fine and healthy.”
“Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, and because of how frequently I interact with my constituents as a part of my job and to give everyone peace of mind, I have decided to remain at my home in Texas this week, until a full 14 days have passed since the CPAC interaction,” Cruz said in the statement.
In January, Sen. Cruz called for a travel ban to and from China as well as advanced screenings at U.S. airports to help stop the spread of the COVID-19.
“Given the severity of the coronavirus in China and its rapid spread across the region, as well as the mounting public fear, it’s imperative that this disease is contained,” Sen. Cruz said. “The administration should take every precaution in preventing additional cases from arriving in the United States, including temporarily halting flights to and from China and implementing additional screening at all U.S. airports.”
Another Washington lawmaker is using extreme precautions after meeting the same infected person at CPAC. Representative Paul Gosar, a Republican of Arizona, is also under self-quarantine. A few hours after Ted Cruz made his coronavirus announcement, Rep. Gosar tweeted that he “sustained contact with a person who has since been hospitalized with the Wuhan Virus.”
Three of his senior staff will also be quarantined after possible exposure and his office will be closed for the week. “We are all asymptomatic and feel great. But we are being proactive and cautious,” the congressman tweeted.
The person who has the coronavirus was tested at a New Jersey hospital and is currently being quarantined in the state. The infected person allegedly was exposed to the coronavirus before the CPAC convention.
The American Conservative Union (ACU), which organizes CPAC, are working closely with the Maryland Department of Health, which has already screened thousands of employees from the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center and the Residence Inn, according to Politico.
“We continue to remain in close contact with the infected individual and he continues to be doing better,” the update from ACU said. “Also, at this point, no other CPAC attendee, participant, or staff has tested positive for coronavirus.”
The statement added that the infected attendee had no interaction with President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.
Last week, President Trump signed a massive spending package that will provide $8.3 billion in federal assistance to local, state and federal government health departments for prevention as well as money for research and development of a vaccine.