Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky became the first known U.S. senator to test positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. “Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19,” the senator’s account tweeted. “He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.” The Kentucky Republican has been working from the Capitol in recent days and he went into quarantine as soon as he got the result. But the news quickly led to concern in Washington as he had interacted with colleagues and spoke to reporters just days before his diagnosis.
Senate GOP leaders insisted the diagnosis would not change plans to move forward with a rare weekend session to discuss the stimulus package. But in private, some senators “have become very concerned over Paul’s diagnosis,” reports Politico. Sen. Jerry Moran said in a GOP lunch Sunday that Paul had been at the gym shortly before his diagnosis was revealed. The fact that the Senate gym was even open came as a shock to many considering gyms have been shut down in many major cities.
Sen. Mitt Romney said several colleagues are now trying to figure out if they need to self-quarantine. “All the senators are going to seek medical advice as to what action we should take to make sure that we don’t in any way spread this virus ourselves,” Romney told reporters. “We had a lunch together with Rand, and hope he’s doing very well, but we have to determine whether any of us should self-quarantine as a result of being in the same room.” Paul’s staff is apparently less concerned because his office had been working remotely for 10 days, so the senator has not had contact with most of his aides.
Paul is now the third member of Congress to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Earlier in the week, Rep. Ben McAdams, a Democrat from Utah, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Florida, became the first two national lawmakers to be diagnosed with COVID-19. They both developed symptoms last weekend.