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Senator Lindsey Graham tests positive for COVID-19, says "glad I was vaccinated"

Delta variant drives nationwide COVID surge
Delta variant drives nationwide COVID surge 04:23

Washington — Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said Monday he has tested positive for COVID-19 after having been vaccinated. He added that his symptoms likely would be worse had he not yet gotten his shot.

Graham said in a statement he began experiencing flu-like symptoms Saturday night and visited the doctor Monday morning. He was then told by the House physician he tested positive for the coronavirus, the South Carolina senator said.

"I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms. I will be quarantining for 10 days," Graham said. "I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now. My symptoms would be far worse."

The senator received his coronavirus vaccine in December, when it began being administered to members of Congress. 

Graham is a member of a broader bipartisan group of senators who worked on developing the infrastructure framework. The bipartisan group of senators introduced the infrastructure legislation Sunday evening. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday night that Senate will move to consider amendments to the legislation with the hope to pass the legislation "in a matter of days."  

Graham attended a party Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, another key member of the bipartisan group, threw on his houseboat over the weekend, according to a source familiar with the situation. Manchin's spokesperson said he will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines after he was exposed, and said the senator is also fully vaccinated. 

Democratic Senators Mark Kelly and Jacky Rosen also were in attendance. Both senators are fully vaccinated, and spokespeople for both said they would be following CDC guidelines and the advice of the Office of the Attending Physician. 

A spokesperson for Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, who is also fully vaccinated, said after learning Graham tested positive, he followed "appropriate recommendations," including getting tested himself. Thune tested negative for COVID-19, the spokesperson said.

Delaware Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat, also attended the party. A spokesperson for the senator said that Coons, who has been fully vaccinated, consulted with the congressional attending physician and is following CDC guidance for exposure to someone who has COVID. He "received a negative test result on Monday evening," the spokesperson said.

While coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have risen due to the highly contagious Delta variant, public health officials argue the vaccines provide strong protection against serious illness from COVID-19 and death. Nearly all of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

A study published Friday from the Kaiser Family Foundation found the rate of breakthrough cases reported among those who are fully vaccinated is less than 1% in states that report such data.

Asked about news of Graham's positive test, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said evidence overwhelmingly shows "breakthrough infections are rare and mild."

"We certainly do hope that Senator Graham has a speedy recovery and experiences mild symptoms, and we wish him the best of health through that," she said.

— CBS News' Alan He and Jack Turman contributed to this report. 

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