Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), diagnosed with COVID-19 just 10 days ago, addressed Monday’s Senate hearing on Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination without a face mask.
Despite wearing a mask upon entry into the hearing, Lee, who earlier this month declared that the United States is “not a democracy,” delivered a speech without one to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of Barrett.
Fellow committee member Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), commented that Lee looked like he had made a full recovery. Lee greeted the remark with a wide smile.
Lee told talk show host Hugh Hewitt earlier on Monday that he was “feeling great” and “ready to be back in the saddle and excited for today’s hearings to begin.” He said he’d gotten “the sign-off” from the congressional physician.
“I’ve gone through the appropriate number of days, and I’ve been keeping my temperature under control, and I’m no longer contagious,” Lee said, adding that for people who recover from COVID-19, “for at least a period of a few months, you’re not going to get it again.”
Researchers have not yet determined whether that’s true, although there have been no confirmed reports of a person being reinfected with COVID-19 within three months.
Lee later shared a letter from Dr. Brian Monahan, the congressional attending physician, on his website. “Based upon current CDC guidelines, you have met criteria to end COVID-19 isolation for those with mild to moderate disease,” Monahan wrote. “Specifically, it has been greater than 10 days since symptom onset, you have had no fever in absence of fever reducing medication for at least 24 hours, and your other symptoms have improved. The CDC does not recommend repeat SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing if these criteria are met.”
CDC guidance says anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 “can be with others at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared.” Lee tweeted 10 days ago that he had experienced COVID-19 symptoms and had tested positive.
“Unlike the test I took just a few days ago while visiting the White House, yesterday’s test came back positive,” he wrote at the time.
Lee, like President Donald Trump and multiple others who fell ill from the coronavirus, attended a Sept. 26 White House Rose Garden event celebrating Barretts’s nomination. He did not wear a mask.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), another Judiciary Committee member, participated in Monday’s hearing remotely. He said he was doing so “out of an abundance of caution” after previously interacting with Lee.
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CORRECTION: An earlier iteration of this piece said that Lee ignored advice from the CDC pertaining to quarantine, which is a separate protocol for those who have been exposed to the virus. Lee was following the isolation recommendations.