Rand Paul, a Republican representing Kentucky in the US senate, has tested positive for Covid-19, his office confirmed in a tweet today. The lawmaker is the first US senator to report testing positive for the disease. Two members of the House, Ben Adams (D-UT) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), have also tested positive.
According to tweets from his office, the 57-year-old senator is asymptomatic and was tested “out of an abundance of caution” due to his extensive travel and events. His Washington, DC office began working remotely on March 12, so no staff are believed to have made contact with the lawmaker of late.
But as recently as Friday (March 20), Paul made contact with several other senators at a lunch meeting. CNN’s Manu Raja posted a photo on Twitter that showed Paul seated next to other Republican senators.
Following Paul’s announcement, four other senators said they were going under quarantine, include Mike Lee (R-UT), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Corey Gardner (R-FL), effectively preventing them from voting for the rest of Sunday as the Senate took up the $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.
Senate Republicans had been meeting daily in addition to their weekly Republican Policy Luncheon, which is held on Tuesday. Just this past Tuesday, treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared at the lunch to discuss bailouts of industries impacted by coronavirus.
Paul was also a regular presence on the Senate floor this past week, where he effectively delayed the $1 trillion stimulus bill with an amendment that would require a Social Security number to qualify for the child tax credit, among other proposals.
An increasing number of leaders and lawmakers around the world have tested positive for Covid-19 or gone into quarantine after coming into contact with an infected individual. This is happening at a time when the cooperation of governments and legislative bodies is needed more than ever, as the pandemic continues to escalate.
German chancellor Angela Merkel is currently under self-quarantine after having contact with a doctor who tested positive, her spokesperson confirmed today. In the UK, 11 members of Parliament chose to self-isolate earlier this month after coming into contact with health minister Nadine Dorries, who tested positive for the virus. In Iran, 12 politicians and public officials have died of the virus, including a member of the clerical body that appoints the nation’s supreme leader. The wives of Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau tested positive for Covid-19, forcing both leaders to self-quarantine.