Florida Republican Becomes First Member of Congress With Coronavirus

WASHINGTON (CN) β€” Florida Representative Mario Diaz-Balart said Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, the first member of Congress to contract the virus that continues to spread across the country.

“I want everyone to know that I am feeling better,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement. “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 the virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., speaks from the House floor in 2019.

Diaz-Balart, a Republican representing Florida’s 25th Congressional District, said he came down with a fever and headache β€” primary symptoms of COVID-19 β€”on Saturday night. He has been self-quarantined in Washington since Friday as a precaution for his wife, who he said has pre-existing conditions that put her at “exceptionally high risk.”

He said in a statement he will remain in quarantine in Washington and work from his apartment. Several lawmakers in the House and Senate have self-quarantined out of an abundance of caution in recent weeks, particularly Republican members who were informed they came into contact with a person who tested positive at a conservative political conference near Washington at the end of last month.

The House of Representatives is out of town this week on a previously scheduled recess and on Monday announced the chamber will not return as originally planned on March 23. In a notice sent out on Monday afternoon, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office said there are plans in the works to keep the number of lawmakers who congregate on the House floor during votes low and that lawmakers could be called back to Washington with a day’s notice.

The Senate is in session and is working on a stimulus package that could run a $1 trillion price tag. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate could similarly organize votes to keep the number of senators on the floor at any one time to a minimum, but dismissed changing Senate rules to allow senators to vote remotely.

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