Three U.S. senators announced Thursday that they tested positive for COVID-19.
Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) released statements about their diagnoses within hours of each other, all saying they had mild symptoms.
All are fully vaccinated. Their positive tests highlight the vaccinations’ purpose, to prevent serious illness and death. Although the shots are highly effective, none offers complete protection from ever getting COVID-19.
The senators join two other prominent elected officials with breakthrough cases in recent weeks: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
Wicker’s office said in a statement that the senator is “in good health” and being treated by his Mississippi physician.
King issued a reminder that “the virus is not done with us yet” while reflecting on all of the lifestyle changes he has made since the pandemic started in order to keep himself and his staff safe.
“Despite all my efforts, when I began feeling mildly feverish yesterday, I took a test this morning at my doctor’s suggestion, and it came back positive. While I am not feeling great, I’m definitely feeling much better than I would have without the vaccine,” he said in a statement, noting that he is taking the diagnosis “very seriously.”
The senators’ cases evoke the Biden administration’s recommendation on booster shots to maintain a stronger level of protection against the virus. The White House now urges all American adults who received the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech shots to seek out a booster eight months after their second shot, because data shows that antibody protection weakens over time. Health officials made the decision in light of the more transmissible delta variant, whose prevalence has been driving up case counts nationwide.
Members of the U.S. House and Senate were among the earliest groups to get vaccinated ― many rolled up their sleeves in late December.
The three new cases brings the number of senators who have contracted COVID-19 to 11, according to The New York Times. In the House, the number is more than 50, according to Ballotpedia.
Both Democratic caucus members used the opportunity to encourage others to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“I’m grateful for the vaccine (and the scientists behind it) for limiting my symptoms and allowing us to continue our work for Colorado,” Hickenlooper said. “If you haven’t been vaccinated, don’t wait for the virus — get the shot today, and a booster when it’s available too!”
Wicker has praised national efforts to vaccinate as many Americans as possible, although he introduced a measure to ban mask mandates on public transit in June and voted against the coronavirus relief package passed in March.