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U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, of Bowling Green, tests positive for COVID-19, third Congressman with positive test

By Mark Hansel
KyForward managing editor

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, announced on Sunday that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

He is the first U.S. senator and third member of Congress known to have contracted the virus.

Sen. Paul’s office released the following statement regarding his test result:

Sen. Paul

“Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person. He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time. Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Paul.”

Two other Republican U.S. Sens., Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, both of Utah, have also chosen to self quarantine, due to close interaction with Sen. Paul.

Sen. Lee’s office issued this statement Sunday.

“Upon learning that my colleague Sen. Paul tested positive for COVID-19, I consulted the Attending Physician of the U.S. Congress Dr. Harding. She advised me that because I have no symptoms or other risk factors, a COVID-19 test was not warranted. However, given the timing, proximity, and duration of my exposure to Sen. Paul, she directed me to self-quarantine for 14 days. That means no traveling or voting. But I will continue to make sure Utah’s voice is heard as we shape the federal response to the Coronavirus through phone, text, email and whatever other means are available.”

Sen. Romney’s office delivered a similar statement.

“Since Senator Romney sat next to Senator Paul for extended periods in recent days and consistent with CDC guidance, the attending physician has ordered him to immediately self-quarantine and not to vote on the Senate floor. He has no symptoms but will be tested. He urges members to pass a relief package as quickly as possible that provides assistance for families, workers, and small businesses.”

This latest development leaves Republicans without five Senate votes on the Hill.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Col.) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) are quarantining in Washington and Florida, respectively, after each was potentially exposed earlier this month.

Reps. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), have also tested positive for COVID-19. McAdams has been hospitalized and Diaz-Balart is in self-quarantine.

Paul said in the statement that he was not aware of any direct contact with an infected person. He was, however, at an event earlier this month where it was publicly announced that guests had tested positive for COVID-19.

Paul was among several high profile politicians who attended a fundraiser in Louisville, the Speed Art Museum “Speed Ball,” on March 7. A woman described as a prominent Louisville philanthropist, and another person at the event, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Others in attendance at the fundraiser included Gov. Andy Beshear,  U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-KY, and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

Gov. Beshear was tested following the revelation and announced on March 15, that he had tested negative for the virus. Fischer announced last week that his wife, Dr. Alexandra Gerassimides, also tested positive for COVID-19 and he believes she contracted the virus at the Speed Art Museum fundraiser.

Paul, a Bowling Green ophthalmologist, was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

He was a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, but dropped out of the race in February of that year.

His father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, was a three-time presidential candidate, as a Libertarian in 1988,  and as a Republican in 2008, and 2012.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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