A federal lawmaker is closing his Washington office and going into quarantine because he was with a person who has the new coronavirus for “an extended period of time.”
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said he was remaining at his house in Arizona until the conclusion of the two-week period following his interaction with an attendee of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) who later tested positive for the new virus, which causes a disease called COVID-19.
Gosar said the extended contact included shaking the person’s hand several times. According to health experts, close personal contact, including shaking hands, is one way the new virus spreads.
“I am not currently experiencing any symptoms, nor is any member of my staff. However, in order to prevent any potential transmission, I will remain at my home in Arizona until the conclusion of the 14-day period following my interaction with this individual,” Gosar said in a statement, adding that he was closing his Washington office for the week.
Gosar said his team would follow a previously approved plan to work remotely.
CPAC organizers said on March 7 that an attendee, who hasn’t been publicly identified, was in quarantine after testing positive for the new virus.
The conference took place from Feb. 26 to Feb. 29 in Maryland and featured a number of federal lawmakers as well as members of the Trump administration.
Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the conference, said the next day that he briefly came into contact with the person who later tested positive. On the final day of the conference, Schlapp appeared on the stage with President Donald Trump and shook the president’s hand.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence were in “close proximity to the attendee” who was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19. Trump told reporters he wasn’t “concerned at all” and would continue holding rallies.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said over the weekend that he was isolating himself at home.
Like Gosar, Cruz said he wasn’t experiencing any symptoms. Unlike Gosar, Cruz said his interaction with the patient was brief, “less than a minute.”
“Medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low,” Cruz said in a statement.
“The physicians further advised that testing is not effective before symptoms manifest, and my brief interaction with the individual does not meet the CDC criteria for self-quarantine.”
Nevertheless, the senator chose to remain at his house this week until two weeks had passed from the time he came into contact with the CPAC attendee who tested positive for the virus.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.