Rep. Mark Meadows Under Self-Quarantine After Possible Coronavirus Exposure

March 10, 2020 Updated: March 10, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said that he is staying home under self-quarantine after news emerged that he may have interacted with a person who later tested positive for the new coronavirus.

“Rep. Meadows was advised this weekend that he may have come into contact with the CPAC attendee who tested positive for COVID-19, now 12 days ago. Out of an abundance of caution, Meadows received testing which came back negative,” Ben Williamson, Meadows’s spokesman, said in a statement late Monday.

“While he’s experiencing zero symptoms, under doctors’ standard precautionary recommendations, he’ll remain at home until the 14-day period expires this Wednesday,” Williamson added.

President Donald Trump on Friday named Meadows as his next acting chief of staff, replacing Mick Mulvaney who had been in the role for more than a year.

Meadows is among other Republican Congress members who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland in late February who have said they are undergoing self-quarantines after being informed they may have interacted with an attendee who later tested positive for the virus. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) have issued statements about undergoing self-quarantines as a precaution until 14 days have passed since the event.

None of the lawmakers have noted any symptoms of the virus. Symptoms may include fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing, although Chinese researchers have noted other symptoms, such as fatigue, diarrhea, chest pains, and headaches.

The American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, said on March 7 that an attendee tested positive for COVID-19 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 said late Monday that Trump has not had testing for COVID-19 “because he has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed COVID-19 patients nor does he have any symptoms.”

Another member of Congress, Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), said on Monday that she and her staff would work remotely after she found out that she had interacted with a person in Washington, D.C. who tested positive for the virus.

Trump announced late Monday that the White House would ask Congress to pass financial measures for workers and businesses to deal with the significant economic fallout due to the viral outbreak. He said there would be meetings with members of the House and Senate on Tuesday to discuss “a possible payroll tax cut,” calling it “a very substantial relief” for workers.

“We’re also going to be talking about hourly wage earners getting help,” so they don’t worry about missing a paycheck, he said at a press conference at the White House.

The virus SARS-CoV-2 that causes the disease COVID-19 emerged in early December 2019 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, a city of about 11 million people. The virus is in the same family of pathogens that cause the flu and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). The disease COVID-19 has killed thousands worldwide, with experts estimating a mortality rate of between 0.1 and 1 percent.

Jack Phillips and Emel Akan contributed to this report.

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy