(WASHINGTON) — Two Republican members of Congress who interacted with President Donald Trump over the weekend announced Monday that they will voluntarily self-quarantine after discovering they interacted with a Conservative Political Action Conference attendee who tested positive for novel coronavirus.
In response to an inquiry by reporters, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement late Monday saying that the president has not been tested for the coronavirus.
Georgia Rep. Doug Collins announced he’d been informed there’s a photo of him with the Conservative Political Action Conference attendee who tested positive for the virus. He shook hands with Trump on the tarmac at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia, Friday and then joined the president on a tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
The second congressman, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz was spotted Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago where Trump hosted a dinner for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Gaetz also rode with Trump in the president’s armored limousine — nicknamed “The Beast” — to the Orlando, Florida, airport Monday and then flew back to Washington with him on Air Force One.
Incoming White House chief of staff and Republican Rep. from North Carolina, Mark Meadows, also announced he is self-quarantining until Wednesday after being informed he may have come into contact with the CPAC attendee who tested positive. Meadows received testing on Monday and the results came back negative, according to a statement from his chief of staff. He’s not experiencing any symptoms, according to the statement.
Despite concerns that administration officials were exposed to COVID-19 at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland late February, senior White House sources told ABC News Monday that Trump and his closest advisers had not been tested for the coronavirus as of Monday morning.
At a press briefing Monday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence said he hadn’t been tested and late Monday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement confirming that Trump had not been tested.
“The President has not received COVID-19 testing because he has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed COVID-19 patients, nor does he have any symptoms. President Trump remains in excellent health, and his physician will continue to closely monitor him,” according to the statement. “Per current CDC guidelines, medical professionals should base testing decisions on patient symptoms and exposure history.”
The contacts with Collins and Gaetz may have been the closest known that Trump has had with someone who directly interacted with an individual who tested positive for the virus.
“This afternoon, I was notified by CPAC that they discovered a photo of myself and the patient who has tested positive for coronavirus. While I feel completely healthy and I am not experiencing any symptoms, I have decided to self-quarantine at my home for the remainder of the 14-day period out of an abundance of caution,” Collins said in a statement Monday afternoon. “I will follow the recommendations of the House Physician and my office will provide updates as appropriate.”
Two other staffers who were with Collins are also self-quarantining out of an abundance of caution. They told ABC News they are not experiencing any symptoms at the time and feel fine.
A member of Gaetz’s staff posted about the congressman on Twitter saying, “While the Congressman is not experiencing symptoms, he received testing today and expects results soon. Under doctor’s usual precautionary recommendations, he’ll remain self-quarantined until the 14-day period expires this week.”
Gaetz received backlash on Twitter last week for posting a photo of himself wearing a gas mask, which some said made light of a serious public health matter. One of his constituents died from the coronavirus just days later.
A top aide to Gaetz told ABC News on Monday, “the office was informed today by CPAC while he was mid-flight on Air Force One that he had come in contact with the infected attendee. Once he landed, he then was immediately tested.”
Collins, Gaetz and Meadows join at least two of their Republican colleagues in Congress — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar — who also announced they’d voluntarily self-quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Rep. Louie Gohmert was on Capitol Hill Monday giving a group of college students a tour despite having been in contact with the CPAC attendee who tested positive for COVID-19.
“The CDC doctor called me Sunday night and said that I shouldn’t be at any risk. Because otherwise I was going to rely on whatever the CDC said.They said ‘no there shouldn’t be any risk, if it were me I would go back to Congress’ so. So that’s what we’re doing and we’re trying to observe all the basic hygienic processes,” Gohmert said.
“I thought the doctor at the CDC was the best guidance I could get so that’s what I relied on. Not my opinion but what the doctor told me,” he added.
Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., closed her Washington office for the week and was remaining at home after meeting with someone who tested positive for the new coronavirus. In a statement, she said she is not experiencing any symptoms.
The American Conservative Union, which organized the CPAC event, first announced in a statement on Saturday that a CPAC attendee had tested positive for COVID-19. While the exposure occurred before the conference, the person still attended the event and is now in the care of medical professionals in New Jersey.
Also on Saturday, the District of Columbia reported its first presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus — but when asked if he was concerned about the virus getting close to the White House, Trump said, “No, I’m not concerned at all.”
The coronavirus has since spread to at least 36 states and the District of Columbia with more than 700 reported cases in the U.S.
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