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Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar staying at home after exposure to man with coronavirus

Sen. Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), seen in January, said a man he met 10 days ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference has since tested positive for the coronavirus.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

Two members of Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar, say they are isolating themselves after determining they had contact at a political conference in suburban Washington with a man who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Cruz (R-Texas) said he had brief contact with the man at the Conservative Political Action Conference nearly two weeks ago and would spend the next few days at his home in Texas until a full 14 days had passed since their interaction.

Gosar (R-Ariz.) said he had made contact with the man at CPAC and that he and three members of his senior staff were under self-quarantine. His office will be closed for the week, Gosar said in a tweet Sunday.

Besides Cruz and Gosar, the CPAC schedule listed three other senators and 12 House members who were scheduled to speak. They included No. 2 House GOP leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, No. 3 Republican leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming and congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who has since been named White House chief of staff. Also on the schedule was Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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Cheney has been told by CPAC that she was not exposed to the convention attendee who has tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokesman for the congresswoman said.

Both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke at CPAC, but the White House said there was no indication that either had met or was in “close proximity” to the infected attendee.

Cruz said he met the man being treated for the coronavirus 10 days ago at the conference in Oxon Hill, Md. He said he’s not experiencing any symptoms, feels fine and has been advised by medical authorities that the odds of transmission were extremely low.

Yet, Cruz said, out of an abundance of caution he will remain at home in Texas for a few additional days. He said medical authorities advised him that those who have interacted with him in the last 10 days should not be concerned about potential transmission.

David Popp, spokesman for McConnell (R-Ky.), said Sunday evening that no changes have been made in the chamber’s schedule because of Cruz’s decision to remain in Texas.

The Senate has a vote scheduled Monday evening and plans to be in session this week considering energy and possibly other legislation. The Senate and the House are set for a one-week recess the week of March 16.

Meanwhile, Maryland reported two new cases Sunday, raising to five the number of confirmed cases in the state.

A Harford County resident in her 80s who contracted the virus while traveling overseas was hospitalized, as was a Montgomery County resident in his 60s who was also infected while traveling overseas.

In a separate case, a prominent Episcopal church in Washington suspended all activities after announcing that one of its senior leaders was the first person in the nation’s capital to test positive for the virus.

The Rev. Timothy Cole, the rector of Christ Church Georgetown, was in stable condition after being hospitalized Saturday night, according to a statement from the Rev. Crystal Hardin, the assistant rector.

According to Christ Church Georgetown’s website, Cole has been the rector since September 2016, is married and has two children.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Christ Church has canceled all activities including church services until further notice. We recommend that concerned community members contact their health care providers,” the church said in a statement.

Washington health officials said Sunday they had determined as part of an investigation that “an individual’s visitation to Christ Church Georgetown warrants precautionary measures,” and they recommended a temporary halt to services. In response, the church publicly identified Cole as the virus patient.

A second local positive test involves a man who visited the Washington area from Nigeria, but he was being hospitalized in Maryland, district Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

The Washington mayor’s office said a district high school is staying closed Monday, though no new confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported. Three people who stayed at the same house as the Nigerian man who was hospitalized in Maryland were tested Sunday, and all were negative. But one of them works at School Without Walls High School, which will close to give staff time to communicate with parents and to clean the school.

Virginia recorded its first case Saturday when a Marine stationed at Ft. Belvoir and living at the Quantico base was found to have the coronavirus. On Sunday, Virginia officials announced a second case involving a Fairfax man in his 80s who took a Nile River cruise.

Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, director of epidemiology and population health for the Fairfax County Health Department, said the man developed systems of respiratory illness Feb. 28 and was hospitalized March 5. He remains hospitalized but is in stable condition and not in an intensive care unit, Schwartz said.

“Fortunately, the individual had limited contact with others while ill, and therefore the risk to the general Fairfax community remains low,” said the county’s health director, Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu.

Virginia state epidemiologist Dr. Lilian Peake said testing for the Ft. Belvoir case was done at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and testing for the Fairfax resident was done at a state lab in Richmond.

“The two cases are not related,” Peake said. “At this point, there are no signs of the virus spreading in the community in Virginia.”


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