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2 Members Of Congress Test Positive For COVID-19, Others Quarantine After Contact

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said on Wednesday that he tested positive for COVID-19, making him the first member of Congress to contract the coronavirus.
Alex Brandon
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said on Wednesday that he tested positive for COVID-19, making him the first member of Congress to contract the coronavirus.

Updated 8:00 a.m. ET Thursday

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams each said Wednesday evening that they have tested positive for COVID-19. They are the first two members of Congress to announce positive tests for the novel coronavirus.

They both said they experienced symptoms and have been self-quarantining.

Diaz-Balart, 58, and McAdams, 45, both voted on the House floor as recently as early Saturday morning, when lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package.

At least five other members of Congress said Wednesday evening they would self-quarantine because they were in contact with the lawmakers or others who tested positive. Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, said he is self-quarantining because he had an extended meeting with Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart late last week. Scalise says he is not experiencing symptoms and will continue to work remotely on Congress' coronavirus response. He says he decided to self-quarantine based on guidance from the attending physician of the congress.

Rep. Drew Ferguson also said he is self-quarantining after Congress' attending physician informed him he came into contact with a member of Congress who has tested positive for Covid-19, but did not specify who.

Reps. Ann Wagner, Stephanie Murphy and Kathleen Rice also said they came into contact with lawmakers or others who tested positive.

A GOP leadership aide said the attending physician for Congress, Dr. Brian Monahan, is connecting with members who might have been exposed. Monahan is working with lawmakers who are getting tested, and in the result of a positive test, he consults with the lawmaker to map out who they came in contact with in order to advise them to self-quarantine.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office also shared an update from the attending physician to lawmakers saying the members who tested positive are "ill, but in good condition. They are following CDC specified self-isolation guidelines at their homes." The office also says it has identified and cleaned areas at risk.

McAdams, a Democrat representing Utah's 4th Congressional District encompassing parts of Salt Lake City, said he developed "mild, cold-like symptoms" on Saturday evening, which then worsened into a fever, cough and labored breathing. He says he "immediately isolated" in his home.

Diaz-Balart, a Republican who represents Florida's 25th Congressional District, which includes Miami-Dade County, said in a statement that on Saturday evening he developed symptoms, including a fever and a headache.

He had already been in self-quarantine in Washington, D.C., something he said he started "in an abundance of caution" after his vote on the coronavirus relief package.

He said he had not returned to South Florida because his wife, Tia, has a preexisting condition that makes her at high-risk of developing severe disease if she contracts the virus.

On Wednesday, Diaz-Balart was notified that he has a confirmed case of the virus that is quickly spreading across the United States.

Diaz-Balart and McAdams are now among more than 7,700 coronavirus cases in the country.

"I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better. However, it is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus," Diaz-Balart said in a statement.

"We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times," he said.

Seven other members of Congress had previously announced they would self-quarantine after exposure in various places and three Hill staffers had tested positive for COVID-19.

Susan Davis and Claudia Grisales contributed to this report.

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Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.
Amita Kelly is a Washington editor, where she works across beats and platforms to edit election, politics and policy news and features stories.