Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) will self-quarantine at his home in Tennessee for 14 days after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. He’s the latest lawmaker impacted as coronavirus reaches into the strongholds of Washington power.
“Senator Alexander has no symptoms and tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon,” Alexander’s chief of staff said in a statement on Sunday. “After discussing this with the Senate’s attending physician, Senator Alexander, out of an abundance of caution, has decided not to return to Washington D.C., and will self-quarantine.”
Alexander was in the Capitol last week and attended a GOP meeting, although he regularly wore a mask in line with health guidelines. He remains scheduled to chair a Senate health committee hearing with several members of the Trump administration and White House coronavirus task force this week via videoconference.
The announcement reflected growing concern throughout Capitol Hill that members of the government may have been exposed to coronavirus, which continues to spread in the U.S. and around the world. A valet frequently in close contact with President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday, and an aide to Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for the virus on Friday. Both men were being tested daily, as was every staff member that had close contact with them.
“The president’s physician and White House operations continue to work closely to ensure every precaution is taken to keep the president, first family and the entire White House complex safe and healthy at all times,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told USA Today.
A number of other administration officials have entered self-isolation in recent days, including the directors of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, also said he would enter a “modified quarantine” after coming into contact with a staffer who tested positive.
Several other senators have been forced to self-isolate after exposure to the virus, although only Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been confirmed to have the illness.
To date, more than 1.3 million people have been infected with coronavirus in the United States and more than 80,000 have died.
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