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Caregiver Self-Quarantines After Flight With COVID-Exposed Minn. Congressmen: 'This Is Time I'll Never Get Back'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- An infectious diseases expert recommends quarantining and more testing for three Minnesota congressmen who were on Air Force One with President Donald Trump this week.

Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn says he and Reps. Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber tested negative before flying on a Delta Air Lines commercial flight Friday.

Two days earlier, they were with Trump.

READ MORE: COVID Contact Tracing Is Crucial After Trump's Minnesota Visit

WCCO spoke with Allina Health infectious diseases specialist Dr. Frank Rhame.

"A test a day or two after exposure that's negative means almost nothing, because you usually wouldn't turn positive that fast," Rhame said.

He says people should quarantine for 14 days after an exposure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines exposure as being within six feet of a COVID-positive person for at least 15 minutes.

Hagedorn says the congressmen were not exposed by that definition. Delta says the trio was cleared to travel because they met the airline's policy conditions.

Jim Hagedorn, Tom Emmer, Pete Stauber Aboard Air Force One
(credit: Tom Emmer/Twitter)

Gina Laughlin, a Delta spokesperson, says a medical professional gave the congressmen an assessment that included "symptom screening, gauging the distance and time the customer may have been in close contact with an individual who is COVID positive, and whether the individual has been asked by a health official to quarantine."

Mike Siebenaler, a passenger on the flight who sat two rows behind Rep. Stauber, believes the men were irresponsible. He is now self-quarantining.

"They could be a carrier. I don't care if they had a test already. This is the incubation period where the disease can be spread," Siebenaler said. "I'm also a caregiver for my elderly parents and I'm not seeing them at all right now. This is time I'll never get back."

Rep. Stauber tweeted photos Saturday of him campaigning, wearing a mask and social distancing.

"They're not out of the woods for at least a week, and officially [for] 14 days no matter what testing's gone on," Rhame said.

He says he would recommend the congressmen getting another test this week.

READ MORE: Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson Tests Positive For COVID-19

None of the three congressmen immediately answered WCCO's request for comment on their plans to be tested again.

The Minnesota Department of Health says the best time to get tested is five to seven days after exposure. An MDH spokesperson also says people should quarantine for two weeks if they've had close contact with someone with COVID.

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