A congressman from Florida became the first member of Congress to test positive for the coronavirus that originated in China.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) announced the diagnosis on Twitter, writing: “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. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times.”
A statement from his office said, “In an abundance of caution, after votes on Friday, March 13th, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart decided to self-quarantine in Washington, D.C, and not return to South Florida because of his wife Tia’s pre-existing conditions that put her at exceptionally high risk. On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms, including a fever and a headache. Just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19. While in quarantine Diaz-Balart has been working from his apartment in Washington, DC.”
The news comes as hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have been infected with the virus which has now killed over 8,500 people.
Diaz-Balart is not the only member of Congress to have self-quarantined over exposure to the virus as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) have all self-quarantined.
The news also comes as Democrat Senator Michael Bennett (CO) reportedly declined on Tuesday to self-quarantine after possible exposure to the virus.
The Trump administration is urging Americans to follow a guidance plan over the next 15 days to prevent the spread of the virus. The guidance plan states:
- Listen and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.
- If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.
- If your children are sick, keep them at home. Do not send them to school. Contact your medical provider.
- If someone in your household has tested positive for the coronavirus, keep the entire household at home. Do not go to work. Do not go to school. Contact your medical provider.
- If you are an older person, stay home and away from other people.
- If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition that can put you at increased risk (for example, a condition that impairs your lung or heart function or weakens your immune system), stay home and away from other people.
- Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others. It is critical that you do your part to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
- Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.
- If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as health care service and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule. You and your employers should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to protect your health at work.
- Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
- Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts — use drive-thru, pick-up or delivery options.
- Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits.
- Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
- Practice good hygiene.
- Wash your hands, especially after touching any frequently used item or surface.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow.
- Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.
This report has been updated to include additional information.