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4 GOP lawmakers self-quarantining after contact with coronavirus patient

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Washington — Four Republican members of Congress — Senator Ted Cruz and Representatives Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar and Doug Collins — have said they are quarantining themselves after learning they had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, or coronavirus, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside Washington last month.

Gaetz's office tweeted on Monday that he was informed he had come in contact with the patient 11 days ago and would self-quarantine for another three days. The Florida congressman wore a gas mask on the floor of the House last week during a vote on an emergency funding package aimed at combatting the spreading virus.

Gaetz traveled aboard Air Force One with President Trump to Washington on Monday. His office said he is not experienced symptoms and expects to learn results from a test for the virus soon.

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Representative Matt Gaetz steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base on Monday, March 9, 2020. Alex Brandon / AP

On Sunday, Cruz said he had brief contact with the individual at CPAC nearly two weeks ago. The senator said he will spend the next few days at his home in Texas until a full 14 days had passed since their interaction. 

Gosar, from Arizona, said he had made contact with the person at CPAC and that he and three members of his senior staff were under self-quarantine. His office will be closed for the week, Gosar said in a tweet Sunday. 

On Monday, Collins said in a statement he was notified by CPAC that he was in a photo with the patient, and said will self-quarantine at his home "out of an abundance of caution." The Georgia Republican said he feels "completely healthy" and is not experiencing any symptoms.

Collins greeted Mr. Trump with a handshake when he arrived in Georgia on Friday and went with the president to visit the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Trump Virus Outbreak
President Donald Trump greets Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., as he arrives on Air Force One Friday, March 6, 2020, at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Ga. Alex Brandon / AP


Besides Cruz, Gosar and Gaetz, the CPAC schedule listed three other senators and 11 House members who were scheduled to speak. They included No. 2 House GOP leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, No. 3 Republican leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming and congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who has since become the White House chief of staff.

How U.S. health officials and hospitals are handling the COVID-19 coronavirus

Cruz said he has since consulted with medical authorities from the Houston Health Department, the Harris County Public Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services as well as his personal physician.

He also said he has spoken with Vice President Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Meadows.

"I'm not experiencing any symptoms, and I feel fine and healthy," Cruz tweeted. "Given that the interaction was 10 days ago, that the average incubation period is 5-6 days, that the interaction was for less than a minute, and that I have no current symptoms, the medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low."

The senator said his physicians further advised that testing isn't effective before symptoms manifest and that his brief interaction with the individual doesn't meet the CDC's criteria for self-quarantine.

"The medical authorities explicitly advised me that, given the above criteria, the people who have interacted with me in the 10 days since CPAC should not be concerned about potential transmission," Cruz said. "Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, and because of how frequently I interact with my constituents as a part of my job and to give everyone peace of mind, I have decided to remain at my home in Texas this week, until a full 14 days have passed since the CPAC interaction."

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