Coronavirus Fears Hit D.C. as Multiple Lawmakers and Reporters Self-Quarantine

Four Republican lawmakers and one Democrat congresswoman have announced that they going into self-quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). Additionally, several news outlets on Monday reportedly asked journalists who covered CPAC to self-quarantine.

Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.) Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) each put out statements saying they interacted with an infected individual at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, but stressed that they are not experiencing any symptoms of the virus. The conference took place from Feb. 26 to Feb. 29 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor. [Update: An additional Republican congressman, Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), confirmed Monday night he too is under self-quarantine after coming into contact with the COVID-19 positive individual at CPAC, bringing the total to six members of congress taking this step “out of an abundance of caution.”]

The attendee has been quarantined and under medical care in New Jersey since testing positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.

Democrat Rep. Julia Brownley of California announced Monday that she, too, was self-quarantining after coming in contact with a COVID-19-positive person in her office.

All of the lawmakers say they are taking the action out of “an abundance of caution.”

“I have consulted with medical authorities from the Houston Health Department, the Harris County Public Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as my personal physician. I have also spoken with Vice President Pence, Leader McConnell, and Mark Meadows,” the Sen. Cruz said in a statement on Sunday.

I’m not experiencing any symptoms, and I feel fine and healthy. Given that the interaction was 10 days ago, that the average incubation period is 5-6 days, that the interaction was for less than a minute, and that I have no current symptoms, the medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low.

The physicians further advised that testing is not effective before symptoms manifest, and my brief interaction with the individual does not meet the CDC criteria for self-quarantine.

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.

He noted that he couldn’t comment on specific members, but “it is my understanding that he does have photos with other Members / VIP’s.”

Those others include Gosar, who wrote in a statement on Sunday that he was “with the individual for an extended period of time, and we shook hands several times.”

Collins, who is running for Georgia’s Senate seat in 2020, said he was notified Monday of a photo of him with the patient, and like Cruz and Gosar, opted to self-quarantine out of “an abundance of caution.”

Collins was with President Trump, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and others at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta on Friday.

Gaetz tweeted he came into contact with the COVID-19 positive CPAC attendee 11 days ago and that he was tested for the virus on Monday, athough he’s not experiencing symptoms.

Gaetz was seen traveling with Trump on Air Force One earlier on Monday.

Former Trump Campaign adviser and Russia Hoax victim Carter Page wrote on Twitter that he also came into contact with the infected CPAC attendee, but declared that the individual was “infinitely less dangerous than the corrupt Democrats and dishonest media who put my life at risk for years.”

Page added the hashtag: #QuarantineFISA

As fears mounted about the potential spread of the disease,  several news outlets, including Politico, the Washington Post, the Daily Beast, and Mother Jones asked “reporters who covered CPAC to self-quarantine and work remotely,” the Washingtonian reported.

Both the Post and Politico say they’ve taken measures to clean and sanitize public areas. The Post has asked employees who were at CPAC to self-quarantine for seven days. All newsrooms tell Washingtonian they’ve taken such measures out of an abundance of caution.

“We understand that this news may be jarring, but it’s important to recognize that this was a large conference and that the risk of transmission for employees who were not in close contact with the infected individual is extraordinarily low,” Politico’s memo says.

The Post also canceled nonessential travel for employees, as well as all “WP Live” events for March.

Congress meanwhile is actively preparing “for a scenario in which Capitol Hill is shuttered to avoid spreading the coronavirus,” John Solomon of Just the News reported Monday afternoon.

The House on Monday opened a logistics center in advance of hundreds of laptops, cellphones and other digital devices possibly being used if the roughly 12-building complex is closed to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

“We’re doing everything to have the resources everybody needs,” a House Administration Committee spokeswoman told Solomon.

On Monday, there were two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Washington D.C., two in Fairfax County in Virginia, and four in Montgomery County, Md., according to the John Hopkins COVID-19 tracking map.

Update:

Rep. Mark Meadows confirmed Monday night that he too is self-quarantined after coming into contact with the COVID-19 positive CPAC attendee.

About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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