Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams become first members of Congress to test positive for coronavirus
Posted March 18, 2020 7:04 p.m. EDT
Updated March 18, 2020 8:46 p.m. EDT
CNN — Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams have become the first members of Congress to test positive for coronavirus, a grim new indicator of the virus' aggressive spread.
"On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms including a fever and headache. Just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19," his office said in a news release.
The Florida Republican said in a statement that he is "feeling much better" but urged the public to take the virus "extremely seriously."
"We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times," he said. Wednesday's statement did not detail how Diaz-Balart may have contracted the disease. He was the first lawmaker to announce a positive test.
Later on Wednesday evening, McAdams, a Utah Democrat, said he too had been diagnosed.
"Today I learned that I tested positive," he said in a statement released on Twitter. "I am still working for Utahns and pursuing efforts to get Utahns the resources they need as I continue doing my job from home until I know it is safe to end my self-qurantine."
The unsettling development underscores the unique challenge facing lawmakers as they both grapple with how to contain the spread of coronavirus throughout the US and take steps to avoid spreading it within Congress.
News of Diaz-Balart and McAdams' positive tests also comes the same day a bipartisan group of House lawmakers sent a letter to congressional leadership requesting a rule change that would allow for remote voting during the pandemic.
"While Congress is an institution with a proud history, we cannot stand on tradition if it puts lives -- and our ability to be the voice of our constituents -- at risk," the letter says.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.