Five Congressmen, Including a Lawmaker Who Shook Hands With Trump, Will Be Quarantined

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(CNN) – Several members of Congress, including the future secretary general of the White House, have announced that they will undergo self-imposed quarantine after coming into contact with an individual who was diagnosed with the new coronavirus at the recent Political Action Conference Conservative (CPAC).

North Carolina Representative Mark Meadows, who was appointed as White House Secretary General on Friday night, announced Monday night that he was tested for coronavirus and that the test was negative. However, he will remain in quarantine until Wednesday, said Ben Williamson, chief of staff at Meadows. Meadows has not yet taken up his new job and was not scheduled to start this week, an official told CNN.

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“The Meadows representative was informed this weekend that he may have been in contact with the CPAC assistant who tested positive for COVID-19, now 12 days ago. As a precaution, Meadows received evidence that proved negative, ”Williamson said in a statement. “While he has no symptoms, according to doctors’ standard precautionary recommendations, he will remain at home until the end of the 14-day period on Wednesday.”

Two other Republican lawmakers announced earlier that day that they would also be in quarantine as a precaution after being in contact with the person who tested positive for coronavirus at the CPAC.

The representative of Georgia Doug Collins, the main Republican in the Judicial Commission of the House of Representatives, and the representative Matt Gaetz of Florida became the third and fourth members of Congress to take the step, following the same announcements of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona on Sunday.

Republican Doug Collins shook hands with President Donald Trump

Collins shook hands with Trump when the president went to Georgia on Friday to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Gaetz traveled with Trump in the presidential limousine and boarded Air Force One back to Washington with him on Monday.

A fifth Republican member, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, was told by officials over the weekend that he had been close to the person, but is not planning the self-quarantine, one Gohmert aide told CNN … those details were confirmed by the Same congressman on Twitter on Monday night.

“After the CDC doctor called me on Sunday night, and we discussed all the specific circumstances of which he was aware, along with my circumstances, including that I was and I have no symptoms, he said that, considering everything, They authorized me to return to Washington, ”Gohmert said in a series of tweets.

Trump ignored the questions he shouted at a White House briefing on whether he had been evaluated. Vice President Mike Pence said he himself had not been evaluated and did not know if Trump had been, but promised to get an answer to the question shortly.

“They didn’t test me for the coronavirus,” Pence said during a briefing on the virus with journalists, which Trump attended at the beginning.

In a separate development, Democratic Representative Julia Brownley of California also announced that she would close her office in Washington during the week and that she would “supervise herself and maintain social distancing practices,” as did her Washington staff, after interact with an individual with the coronavirus last week. CNN has contacted your office for additional details about its plans.

Collins shook hands with Trump when the president visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta last week. Gaetz traveled in the Air Force Once with the President on Monday.

Collins announced the decision in a statement Monday afternoon, saying that the organizers of the Annual Conservative Political Action Conference notified him Monday afternoon that they had found a photograph of Collins with the person who tested positive for coronavirus.

“While I feel completely healthy and I am not experiencing any symptoms, I have decided to quarantine in my home for the rest of the 14-day period as a precaution,” Collins wrote.

Two Collins aides also went into self-quarantine, according to an assistant familiar with the situation. The attendees in question also interacted with the infected person in CPAC at the end of February and do not experience any symptoms.

Gaetz announced his own quarantine in a series of tweets later on Monday, stating: “While the congressman is not experiencing symptoms, he received evidence today and expects results soon.”

“According to the doctor’s usual precautionary recommendations, he will remain in quarantine until the end of the 14-day period this week,” said the tweet.

The Florida Republican, who spent the weekend at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, had put on a gas mask on the floor of the House of Representatives last week while voting on a bill that would dedicate thousands of millions of dollars to fight the coronavirus.

Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and several other administration officials also attended the conference, but the American Conservative Union, which organizes the event each year, said the infected aide did not contact the president or Pence.

Speaking to Fox News on Monday, Gosar emphasized the need to remain calm about the virus.

“I’m in interviews across the board, quenching the hysteria,” he said.

Even so, the spread of the virus has led the authorities of the House of Representatives and the Senate to prepare to maintain the operation of Congress if the disease threatens the operations of the Capitol.

Several offices of the House of Representatives and the Senate have begun to practice how they would operate if a large part of the officials were forced into quarantine and had to work from home, say Congress sources.

The United States Capitol Police is working to ensure that secure communications can continue off-site. The leaders of the key congressional commissions, together with the police authorities and the Capitol doctor’s office, have informed each legislator’s office to prepare contingency plans in case of an outbreak.

And lawmakers say more extreme measures may have to be taken, such as limiting tourists on Capitol Hill or moving legislative businesses off-site, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Monday. that the virus should not close the Capitol.

“Do not. No no no no. Do you understand not? ”Pelosi said when he entered his office.

“At this time, there is no reason to do so. But it is not my decision. It is a health and safety decision, and we depend on experts. ”

Jeremy Diamond, Jeremy Herb, Kaitlan Collins, Maegan Vázquez, Manu Raju and Ted Barrett of CNN contributed to this report.

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