Republican Sen. Rand Paul has tested positive for the coronavirus, a staff member announced on Sunday.
According to a tweet from the Kentucky Republican’s account, Paul does not have symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, though he tested positive.
Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.
Paul is the first US senator to test positive for the disease, and two members of the House of Representatives — Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, and Utah Democrat Ben McAdams — tested positive last week.
Paul was present at the US Capitol last week as the Senate has remained in session — in spite of recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that people avoid gathering in groups of 10 or larger. His staff began working remotely 10 days ago, a tweet from Paul’s account said.
“He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time,” the Paul statement said.
As recently as Sunday morning, Paul was working out at the gym, leaving Senate colleagues concerned they may have been exposed.
On Wednesday, Paul was one of eight senators who voted a $100 billion stimulus package, which provided free coronavirus testing as well as expanding unemployment and some sick leave. Paul argued the funding should be offset by cuts to other government spending.
Lawmakers are that would provide aid to Americans as the outbreak has spiked unemployment claims and shuttered many small businesses.
In addition to the lawmakers who have tested positive for the disease, more than two dozen others are self-quarantining because they’ve come into contact with someone who has tested positive. Some congressional staffers have told BuzzFeed News they’re concerned they could be exposed by coming in to work.
“Why are we here? Why are we risking our health? To protect the stock market?” one staffer said last week in the halls of the Capitol.
*** Olivia Isibor