- Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida announced Wednesday evening that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
- Diaz-Balart, a Republican representing Florida’s 25th District, said in a statement that he was “feeling much better” but that it was vital Americans take the coronavirus “extremely seriously.”
- He was the first member of Congress to test positive for the coronavirus but was soon followed by a second Wednesday night. Two congressional staffers have also tested positive, and several lawmakers have had to self-quarantine as a precaution.
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Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, has announced that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, making him the first member of Congress confirmed to have fallen ill with COVID-19.
His office announced the news Wednesday night in press release and a tweet.
—Mario Diaz-Balart (@MarioDB) March 18, 2020
Diaz-Balart represents Florida’s 25th Congressional District.
“In an abundance of caution, after votes on Friday, March 13th, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart decided to self-quarantine in Washington, DC, and not return to South Florida because of his wife Tia’s pre-existing conditions that put her at exceptionally high risk,” the statement said.
“On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms, including a fever and a headache. Just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19. While in quarantine Diaz-Balart has been working from his apartment in Washington, DC.”
In the early hours of Saturday morning, the House voted to pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Diaz-Balart was present and voted in the affirmative, though it is not yet clear precisely when he was most recently on the House floor.
Just a few hours later, he was experiencing symptoms of the disease.
In a statement of his own, Diaz-Balart told constituents, “I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better.”
“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 this virus,” he said. “We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times.”
The congressman’s offices are closed, and his staff will remain quarantined until further notice, his press secretary, Laura Hernandez, told Insider.
Shortly after Diaz-Balart’s announcement, Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah announced Wednesday night that he too had tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I am still working for Utahns and pursuing efforts to get Utahns the resources they need as I continue doing my job from home until I know it is safe to end my self-quarantine,” McAdams said in a statement. “I’m doing my part as all Americans are doing to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the coronavirus outbreak.”
Two congressional staffers have also tested positive for the coronavirus so far. One works for Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington and the other for Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona. Several congressional offices remain closed, and many staffers are working remotely to avoid exposure.
Several members of Congress have had to self-quarantine in recent weeks over fears they were exposed to the virus after meeting with people who later tested positive. Those lawmakers included Republican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as well as Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.
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