U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has tested positive for the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, and is in quarantine, according to a statement released by his office on Sunday.
He is the first U.S. senator to test positive for the virus. Paul is the third Congress member to contract the infection after Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams.
Paul’s deputy chief of staff, Sergio Gor, said, “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,” Gor added. “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.”
Gor continued that the senator’s office in Washington, D.C., was operational remotely 10 days ago, which means “virtually no staff” has had contact with Paul.
Paul was one of eight senators who voted against a coronavirus relief package that allows free coronavirus testing and offers paid leave to American citizens affected by the ongoing outbreak.
On Friday, he attended a lunch with other Senate Republicans. He was seen working out in the Senate gym on Sunday morning, according to congressional sources.
After the announcement from Paul’s office, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters that senators are “going to seek medical advice as to what action we should take to make sure that we don’t in any way spread this virus ourselves.”
“We had a lunch together with Rand and hope he’s doing very well, but we have to determine whether any of us should self-quarantine as a result of being in the same room,” he added.
Last week, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Paul and Congressman John Yarmuth and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear attended an event in the first week of March with two people who were later found to be tested positive for the coronavirus.
Paul had some part of his lung removed in 2019 after it was damaged in an assault by his neighbor a couple of years ago. The positive tests from Diaz-Balart, McAdams, and now Paul have prompted many members to announce they would be self-quarantining at least until Friday.