WASHINGTON — Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz jokingly wore a large gas mask on the House floor when the chamber voted on a coronavirus spending bill last Wednesday. Now there are four members under quarantine due to the outbreak, including himself.
By Monday, his office announced the Florida lawmaker was in self-quarantine after coming into contact with a person who was diagnosed with the coronavirus at CPAC, a conservative political conference, almost two weeks ago.
“Congressman Gaetz was informed today that he came into contact with a CPAC attendee 11 days ago who tested positive for COVID-19,” his office tweeted Monday afternoon. “Congressman Gaetz had expected COVID-19 to impact Congress, given the elevated frequency of travel and human contact, and demonstrated his concern last week on the House Floor.”
Gaetz doesn’t have any symptoms of the coronavirus, his office said on Twitter, and he has been tested for the virus, but the results haven’t come back yet. He will remain in self-quarantine until later this week, after a two-week period since coming in contact with the person expires. Gaetz also said on Twitter that his DC office will be closed while the member is in quarantine, and that his district office in Pensacola, Florida, will remain open. One person from Gaetz’s district died from COVID-19 over the weekend.
Gaetz is one of four members of Congress currently in self-quarantine after interacting with a person diagnosed with the virus at CPAC last month. Republicans Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona announced Sunday night that they were going into quarantine, and Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia announced he was going into quarantine Monday afternoon.
The CDC has recommended that, as coronavirus spreads, people avoid shaking hands. Last week, after the CPAC conference, Collins visited the CDC with President Donald Trump and shook hands with the president Friday.
“This afternoon, I was notified by CPAC that they discovered a photo of myself and the patient who has tested positive for coronavirus,” Collins said in a statement Monday. “While I feel completely healthy and I am not experiencing any symptoms, I have decided to self-quarantine at my home for the remainder of the 14-day period out of an abundance of caution.”
One other member of Congress, Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley of California, announced Monday that she, too, was self-quarantining after coming in contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19. She is the only member who has announced contact with a person who did not attend CPAC.
“Out of an abundance of absolute caution, my DC staff and I are self-monitoring and maintaining social distancing practices," Brownley said in a statement. "Neither I, nor my staff, are experiencing any symptoms at this time.”