Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said he is going to self-quarantine after being exposed to a COVID-19 patient, following similar measures implemented by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).
All three of the lawmakers said they would self-quarantine for 14 days since interacting with the person at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland.
“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 on 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.”
This afternoon, I was notified by CPAC that they discovered a photo of myself and the patient who has tested positive for #COVID19.
While I am not experiencing any symptoms, I have decided to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution.
Full statement → pic.twitter.com/74oeaYOBYR
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) March 9, 2020
Collins, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee and a key defender of President Donald Trump during the impeachment inquiry, said he would follow the instructions from the House Physician and will provide further updates.
Collins also shook Trump’s hand in Georgia last week after the CPAC event, according to a photo posted on social media. According to reports last week, Collins was alongside the president when he and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention office in Atlanta.
On March 7, the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, said that an attendee, who was not named, tested positive for COVID-19, the disease the new coronavirus causes, at a New Jersey hospital after attending the event. The patient was exposed to the virus before attending the convention and is under quarantine at a local hospital.
The person didn’t come into contact with Trump or Vice President Mike Pence, who both attended the conference, which lasted for several days in late February. Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union, told media outlets on Sunday he interacted with the COVID-19 patient and also shook the president’s hand on the last day of the conference, although he said he hasn’t tested positive for the virus and isn’t experiencing any symptoms.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters on Monday that Trump isn’t worried about being exposed to the virus.
“The president of the United States as we all know is quite a hand washer,” she said in a statement.
Collins’s announcement comes as the virus has increasingly spread around the world and the United States, causing stock markets to plunge in recent days. The Dow Jones dropped by around 2,000 points on Monday, leading Trump to accuse media outlets of spreading unnecessary fear.
“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” he wrote on Twitter amid the stock plunge on Monday.