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Florida Republican becomes first member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart decided to self-quarantine after voting in the House on Friday

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)/(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first member in the U.S. Congress confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus.

What are the details?

Diaz-Balart's office released a statement on Wednesday, explaining that the congressman self-quarantined himself "in an abundance of caution" after voting in the House of Representatives on Friday.

"On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms, including a fever and a headache," the statement read, before revealing that "just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19."

The Florida Republican wrote, "I want everyone to know that I am feeling better. However, it is important that everyone takes this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times."

The New York Times' Chief Washington correspondent tweeted in reaction to the news, "Rep. Diaz-Balart was on the floor voting Friday as House wrapped up. Must have had contacts with a significant number of colleagues."

Fox News reported that the coronavirus "has already affected others on Capitol Hill," noting that two congressional aides had already tested positive and a number of members have already self-quarantined after coming into contact with individuals who were later found to be infected.

CNN noted that "news of Diaz-Balart's positive test also comes the day a bipartisan group of House lawmakers sent a letter to congressional leadership requesting a rule change that would allow for remote voting during the pandemic."

The letter argued, "While Congress is an institution with a proud history, we cannot stand on tradition if it puts lives — and our ability to be the voice of our constituents — at risk."

Anything else?

Shortly after Rep. Diaz-Balart's announcement, a second congressman, Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) issued a statement saying that he, too, had tested positive for COVID-19.

This story was updated to add the news of Rep. McAdams' diagnosis.

One last thing…
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