Two more Republican lawmakers — GOP Reps. Doug Collins of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida — revealed Monday they had contact with the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) attendee who has since been diagnosed with coronavirus, saying they are not experiencing symptoms but will self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution.
Both Collins and Gaetz are pro-Trump Republicans who have been in the president’s orbit since CPAC: Collins shook the Trump’s hand and joined him for a visit to the CDC on Friday; Gaetz was spotted riding on Air Force One on Monday.
That makes four Republican lawmakers who have said they interacted with the CPAC attendee who tested positive for COVID-19, after announcements over the last day from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar.
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“This afternoon, I was notified by CPAC that they discovered a photo of myself and the patient who has tested positive for coronavirus,” Collins said in a statement Monday. “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.”
He added: “I will follow the recommendations of the House Physician and my office will provide updates as appropriate.”
Gaetz said he planned to close his Washington office as he awaited test results.
“Congressman Gaetz was informed today that he came into contact with a CPAC attendee 11 days ago who tested positive for COVID-19,” read a tweet from the congressman’s account, adding that “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’s account said.
The attending physician for the U.S. Capitol acknowledged Monday that the patient had contact with “several” members of Congress at CPAC.
In a statement Monday, Dr. Brian Monahan said that the individual who has been diagnosed with coronavirus was “able to recall specific names of people he had contact with during the meeting.”
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Three senior members of Gosar’s staff are also self-quarantined, the lawmaker said.
The White House was made aware of the CPAC attendee’s diagnosis, as both President Trump and Vice President Pence attended and spoke at the conference which took place from Feb. 26 to 29. The White House said there is no indication that Trump or Pence was in close proximity to the stricken attendee.
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which puts on CPAC, said he had brief and “incidental contact” with the patient. He is also self-quarantined at this time, despite feeling no symptoms.
Despite not having contact with the individual, Trump did come into contact with Schlapp, as well as Collins, who joined the president for a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday.
Meanwhile, Trump downplayed the threat of coronavirus on Monday, noting that the “common flu” kills thousands of Americans each year and that “life & the economy go on.”
“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year,” Trump tweeted Monday. “Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
According to the CDC, during the 2018-2019 flu season in the U.S., an estimated 35.5 million people were sick with influenza and approximately 34,200 people died from the illness.