Several senators are in quarantine after being near Utah’s Mike Lee
FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2020 file photo, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington to examine the FBI "Crossfire Hurricane" investigation. Hours after President Donald Trump announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus, Lee revealed he too had been infected with the disease. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool via AP, File)
Sen. Mike Lee’s coronavirus diagnosis has resulted in at least three of his colleagues going into quarantine.
So far, Republicans Sens. Ted Cruz, James Lankford and Ben Sasse have announced they are going to self-isolate because they interacted recently with the Utah senator.
Lee announced Friday that he’d been diagnosed with COVID-19. On Saturday, his spokesman Conn Carroll said, “Sen. Lee is doing fine and is in isolation in D.C.”
Last Saturday, Lee attended the Rose Garden ceremony where President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Attendees took a rapid COVID-19 test and came up negative. Lee had a mask with him but did not wear it during the ceremony.
In the week since that event, at least seven high-profile attendees of that event have now tested positive. That includes the president, first lady Melania Trump, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, ex-White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, University of Notre Dame President Jon Jenkins, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and Lee have also tested positive.
Trumps' campaign manager, Bill Stepien, and the head of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., also were diagnosed with COVID-19. None were at the Supreme Court ceremony.
Trump has since been hospitalized for treatment.
On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he’d postponed Senate floor proceedings until Oct. 19, but said the Senate Judiciary Committee would still convene Oct. 12 to begin hearings on Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination.
Judiciary Committee Democrats have asked the confirmation hearing be postponed, saying it “threatens the health and safety of those who work in this body.”
Lee and Tillis are part of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as are Sasse, R-Neb., and Cruz, R-Texas.
If confirmation hearings remain on schedule, and Lee, Tillis, Sasse and Cruz attend, they will not have been in self-isolation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended 14 days
The CDC has said people should stay home after COVID-19 exposure for two weeks, even if they test negative or feel healthy.
Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a tweet after Lee’s diagnosis that he’d spoken to the senator, and that Lee expected to be back to work by Oct. 12. Lee had promised to be in isolation for 10 days when he announced that he had COVID-19, which would end the day before the planned Judiciary Committee hearings.
A spokesman for Cruz told the Houston Chronicle
that the senator is staying home “out of an abundance of caution,” but has no symptoms and plans to return to D.C. in time for Barrett’s hearing.
A spokesman for Sasse told ABC news
that Sasse also plans to return to work Oct. 12.
Judiciary Committee member Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, is not going to be tested, despite working with Lee and Tillis this week, the Des Moines Register reported
“Sen. Grassley’s doctors have not recommended he be tested as he has not come into close contact with anyone suspected of having or confirmed to have coronavirus,” Grassley’s spokesman, Michael Zona, said in a statement to the Register.
Graham tested negative for coronavirus after interactions with Lee and is scheduled for an in-person debate Saturday night.