On Wednesday, it became official: The coronavirus pandemic has hit Capitol Hill. While lawmakers in Washington are hard at work pushing out bills that will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and stem the financial disaster that appears to be forming like a hurricane around the edges of the U.S. economy, two congressman announced that they have come down with the deadly disease. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ben McAdams (D-UT) are both symptomatic and have tested positively for the coronavirus.
In response to the news, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the Republican whip, announced that he would be heading into self-quarantine, but he has not displayed any symptoms and has not tested positively for the virus as of yet.
“I have just been informed that my colleague, Mario Diaz-Balart, tested positive for COVID-19. Since I had an extended meeting with him late last week, out of an abundance of caution, I have decided it would be best to self-quarantine based on the guidance of the Attending Physician of the United States Congress,” Scalise said.
In a letter sent out from Capitol physicians, doctors in Washington said that it was no surprise to see the disease travel among lawmakers in D.C.
“It reflects the pace of the COVID-19 disease throughout the United States and its presence here in Washington, D.C. that it has touched the community of the U.S. Capitol,” said the letter. “Our office has taken appropriate actions to identify any individuals who require additional monitoring for periods of quarantine, and has adopted a very conservative guideline to identify individuals who may have come into contact with the ill Members during the pre-symptomatic period of March 13th.”
Diaz-Balart made an exceptionally good decision last Friday when he decided not to return home after Congress let out for the weekend.
“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,” his office said in a statement. “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, D.C.”
At a time when we’re still seeing far too many fools taking this lightly, Diaz-Balart may have saved lives with his wise decision. We wish him and McAdams a quick recovery.