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Former O.C. Supervisor Michelle Steel tests positive for COVID-19 days after Congressional swearing-in

Former Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel in a Jan. 3 swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Former Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel in a Jan. 3 swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C.
(Courtesy of U.S. Rep. Michelle Steel)

Former Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel — who retired from the position Sunday after being sworn into office in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 38th District — announced she has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The news came Wednesday afternoon, the same time as reports broke that an angry mob had stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., where Steel would have been working.

Instead, the Seal Beach resident said she was self-quarantining but did not disclose her location.

The storming of the U.S. Capitol forced the House and Senate to delay their debate over the formal counting and announcement of electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden. Four people die in the mayhem.

Just three days earlier, Steel’s office circulated photos from a Jan. 3 swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C. — a scene she described in a statement later that day as her own “American dream” come to life.

“Taking the oath of office to represent the nation that has blessed me with so many opportunities is a moment I will never forget,” Steel said in Sunday’s statement. “This is a responsibility that I will never take for granted, especially as so many families and businesses continue to fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

By comparison, Wednesday’s commentary was brief and straightforward. Steel said she’d learned that morning she had come into contact with an infected individual.

“I have no symptoms, but out of an abundance of caution received a test through the Office of the Attending Physician this afternoon and tested positive,” the assemblywoman said. “At the advice of the attending physician, and to protect the health of my colleagues, I will be quarantining.”

Steel has been an outspoken critic of California Gov. Gavin Newsom and has taken a strong stance against health orders issued last month mandating Southern California residents and businesses, including those in Orange County, restrict movements and operations until the aggregated regional ICU bed capacity met or exceeded 15%.

In a Dec. 4 statement, Steel claimed the stay-at-home order was not based on science or any clear standards and would only continue to cripple economy activity during a period of crisis.

“The governor has been clamping down on our residents’ ability to provide for themselves and their families for weeks, with no evidence it has slowed the spread,” Steel said. “The evidence we have seen is more depression, more closed businesses, and less work for those who need it most.”

It remained unclear Wednesday who may have exposed Steel to the coronavirus, or whether she herself may have been contagious during Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony on the House floor.

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