Washington, March 19 : Two US Congressmen have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which has so far infected thousands across the country.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mario Diaz-Balart, a ninth-term Florida Republican, confirmed that he tested positive for disease, becoming the first American Congressman to contract the virus.
Diaz-Balart, 58, said he began to develop symptoms on March 14, just hours after he left the House floor for a vote on a coronavirus response bill, a Politico news report said.
More than 400 members of Congress also voted during the session.
“I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better,” Diaz-Balart said in the statement.
“However, it is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times.”
Also on Wednesday, Democrat Representative from Utah Ben McAdams announced that he has tested positive for the virus.
McAdams, 45, also said his symptoms began mildly on the night of March 14, after he had returned to Utah. He immediately began self-quarantining on the advice of his doctor, said the Politico news report.
“My symptoms got worse and I developed a fever, a dry cough and labored breathing and I remained self-quarantined,” McAdams said in a statement.
“On Tuesday, my doctor instructed me to get tested for COVID-19 and following his referral, I went to the local testing clinic for the test. Today I learned that I tested positive.”
Meanwhile, Congress Representative Drew Ferguson said on Wednesday night that the House doctor had advised him to self-quarantine until March 27 because he “was in contact with a member of Congress on March 13th that has since tested positive for COVID-19”.
House minority whip, Representative Steve Scalise, said on Wednesday that he, too, would self-quarantine because he had held an “extended meeting” with Diaz-Balart late last week.
Scalise is now the highest-ranking US lawmaker to self-quarantine.
Meanwhile, Fox News said in a report that it has obtained the letter sent from the office of the attending physician Brian Monahan at the Capitol to lawmakers late Wednesday.
The letter said: “It reflects the pace of the COVID-19 disease throughout the US and its presence here in Washington, D.C. that it has touched the community of the US Capitol.”
According to the latest update by Johns Hopkins University, there are currently more than 9,077 confirmed cases in the US and 145 deaths.