Congress Has Its First Coronavirus Patient

Diaz-Balart showed symptoms Saturday and has tested positive
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2020 6:55 PM CDT
Diaz-Balart Is First Member of Congress With Coronavirus
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, center, speaks in January on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart has become the first member of Congress to test positive for the new coronavirus. The Florida Republican showed symptoms Saturday and self-quarantined at his apartment in Washington, he said in a statement. He had decided not to return to Florida after casting House votes Friday, the Washington Post reports, because his wife has health issues "that put her at exceptionally high risk." Diaz-Balart has since been told he tested positive for the virus. "I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better," he tweeted. "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."

At least 14 other members of Congress have said they're self-quarantining or isolating themselves after interactions with someone who has the virus, per CNN. That number could grow if lawmakers who have interacted with Diaz-Balart decide to take precautions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have opposed letting their members cast votes remotely during the pandemic, per USA Today. (More coronavirus stories.)

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