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Washington • Rep. Ben McAdams, who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, said Sunday night that he was admitted to the hospital Friday evening after suffering “severe shortness of breath.”
Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney are self-quarantining per doctors’ orders after coming in contact with Sen. Rand Paul, who confirmed he tested positive Sunday for COVID-19.
None of the three will be voting in the next two weeks, their offices confirmed, as Congress wrestles with taking swift action to counter the impacts of the novel coronavirus that has infected at least three members of the legislative body so far.
McAdams, Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress, said that he expects to be released soon.
McAdams, who said last Wednesday that he had contracted the novel coronavirus, said he was following public health guidelines when he phoned the COVID-19 hotline after his breathing grew worse.
“I was instructed to go to the hospital and check in with the isolation unit to be seen by health care providers equipped to receive me,” McAdams, 45, said Sunday night in a statement. “I was admitted and have been receiving oxygen as I struggled to maintain my blood oxygen at appropriate levels.
"I am now off oxygen and feeling relatively better and expect to be released as soon as the doctors determine it is appropriate.”
McAdams is one of three members of Congress now confirmed to have COVID-19.
Lee, 48, says he has no symptoms but on advice of a doctor will self-quarantine because of his proximity to Paul, who is often his confidant in the chamber.
The attending physician of Congress "advised me that because I have no symptoms or other risk factors, a COVID-19 test was not warranted,” Lee said in a statement. “However, given the timing, proximity, and duration of my exposure to Senator Paul, he directed me to self-quarantine for 14 days. That means no traveling or voting.”
The Utah senator said he will make sure "Utah’s voice is heard as we shape the federal response to the coronavirus through phone, text, email and whatever other means are available.”
Romney, 73, said he sat next to Paul for “extended periods in recent days."
“Consistent with CDC guidance, the attending physician has ordered [Romney] to immediately self-quarantine and not to vote on the Senate floor,” senator’s office said. "He has no symptoms but will be tested. He urges members to pass a relief package as quickly as possible that provides assistance for families, workers and small businesses.”
Told that Romney would have to be in isolation, President Donald Trump said: “Gee that’s too bad.” Asked if he was being sarcastic, the president said he wasn’t. Trump has often criticized Romney, the only Republican to vote for his removal from office in the impeachment trial.
The developments come as Congress is seeking to pass another massive bill — one that could top $1.5 trillion — to offer financial relief among the pandemic.
Paul is the third member of Congress to test positive for the coronavirus.
Romney told reporters that he was at a lunch with Paul, a Kentucky Republican, on Friday. People infected with the novel coronavirus can be contagious days before they show any symptoms.
“All the 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,” Romney told reporters at the Capitol.
“We have to determine whether any of us should self-quarantine as a result of being in the same room,” Romney added.
Paul was reportedly at the Senate gym earlier Sunday and swimming in the pool.
“We wish him the very best,” Romney said Sunday. “He’s compromised, given health conditions he’s had in the past. And so we’ll be praying for him and thinking about him.”
Paul’s office confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 but is “feeling fine and is in quarantine.”
“He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events,” said Sergio Gor, Paul’s deputy chief of staff. “He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person. He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends, and he will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time.”
Paul had closed his Washington office 10 days ago, as did many members of Congress.
Paul and Lee were two of the eight votes against a second relief bill Congress passed to try and help workers affected by the coronavirus. The conservative Kentucky senator had offered an amendment — that later failed — to provide help for those impacted by coronavirus by cutting government spending elsewhere.
Paul came under instant condemnation, including from a fellow senator, for his actions to continue working in the chamber while knowing he might have been exposed to the coronavirus. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Paul, an ophthalmologist, attended a fundraiser March 7 where at least three other people have tested positive for COVID-19.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., tweeted her disgust with Paul.
“This, America, is absolutely irresponsible. You cannot be near other people while waiting for coronavirus test results. It endangers others & likely increases the spread of the virus,” she said.
Republican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Cory Gardner of Colorado also said they were isolating themselves because of possible exposure to coronavirus by Paul. There are several in the House doing the same thing.