Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart & Ben McAdams Test Positive For Coronavirus, First Congress Members With COVID-19
Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah) confirmed Wednesday that they had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The two lawmakers are first members of Congress to become infected, indicating the sweeping nature of COVID-19.
The pair was last seen on Capitol Hill Friday when the House voted on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
“On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms including a fever and headache. Just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19,” the 58-year-old representative’s office reported in a press release Wednesday night.
Diaz-Balart claimed in a statement, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that he is “feeling much better” but urged the public to take the virus “extremely seriously. “He also warned the public to “follow CDC guidelines.”
I’m feeling much better. However, it’s important that everyone take this seriously and follow @CDCgov guidelines in order to avoid getting sick & mitigate the spread of this virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times. pic.twitter.com/g5W5vSQIyH
— Mario Diaz-Balart (@MarioDB) March 18, 2020
Diaz-Balart was the first lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19. The press statement did not detail how the Florida Republican may have contracted the disease.
Later Wednesday evening, McAdams, 45, a freshman Democrat, reported in a press release that he had been diagnosed with the virus, too. McAdams released a statement on Twitter.
— Rep. Ben McAdams (@RepBenMcAdams) March 19, 2020
Their diagnoses raise questions about whether members on Capitol Hill can adhere to standard procedure – where face-to-face interactions and close quarters are the norms – and members are generally older, a high-risk demographic for complications.
Dr. Brian Monahan, the in-house Congressional physician, sent a letter to Capitol Hill staffers late Wednesday, stating that those who had potential exposure to Diaz-Balart and McAdams were being notified. Monahan said that he was taking a “very conservative guideline to identify individuals who require additional monitoring,” and urged them to self-quarantine.
At least 14 other lawmakers have announced discretionary plans to self-quarantine as a precautionary measure after coming into contact with a confirmed case.