Rand Paul becomes first senator to test positive for coronavirus

USA Flash

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokesman said on Sunday, becoming the first senator known to contract the disease.

“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,” Sergio Gor, Paul’s spokesman, said. 

Gor added that Paul “was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.”ADVERTISEMENT

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.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 22, 2020

Paul is the first senator and third lawmaker overall to announce that they had tested positive. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) said last week they had tested positive. 

The announcement from the two House members sparked a wave of decisions by their colleagues to self-quarantine. No senators immediately said they would self-quarantine.ADVERTISEMENT

Paul is now expected to miss a vote scheduled for Sunday afternoon related to a massive coronavirus stimulus package. Senate Republicans also want to take a final vote on the package on Monday. 

Gor said that Paul would “be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends.”

“Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Paul,” he said.

The Kentucky senator was involved in decisions relating to the coronavirus stimulus package before his diagnosis. He has spoken out against providing $1,000 to all Americans, saying the payment should be based on unemployment and those out of work because of the containment policies.  

“If you’re still employed and doing well, why would we want to send you $1,000?” he said Wednesday. “It just seems to me fiscally irresponsible just to send everybody money.”ADVERTISEMENT

The senator forced amendment votes on the two coronavirus packages that have already passed, slowing down the process. Paul said Friday he planned to introduce his own proposed package that includes a 60-day payroll tax holiday and would change paid sick leave to expanded unemployment insurance.

“The national emergency we face may be new, but the answers out of Washington have so far been the same: more spending, more debt, and more mandates on the American people,” Paul said last week.

President Trump has signed two coronavirus packages passed by Congress. The first designated money to health agencies and first responders, and the second funded emergency paid leave, free coronavirus testing and unemployment insurance.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has scheduled a procedural vote for the third stimulus package Sunday, but the Democratic leaders are hesitant, as they haven’t signed off yet. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said after a meeting between congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the Democrats would provide their own stimulus package, which she hopes will be “compatible” with the Senate version.

The U.S. has documented more than 31,000 cases of COVID-19 and 390 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Kentucky has recorded 99 cases and three deaths.

U.S. Airlines suspending ALL flights between the U.S. and China

On Friday, January 31, Delta, American and United announced they will temporarily suspend all of their mainland China flights in response to the coronavirus outbreak.[14]

Prior to this January 31 announcement:

  • UNITED AIRLINES
    on Jan. 28 had announced it would cut 24 flights between the U.S. and China for the first week of February.
  • AMERICAN AIRLINES
    on Jan. 29 had announced it would suspend flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai and Beijing from Feb. 9 through March 27, 2020. It will maintain its flight schedules (10 daily A/R) from Dallas-Fort Worth to Shanghai and Beijing, as well as from Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth to Hong Kong.
  • DELTA
    had not adjusted its schedule of direct flights from the U.S. to China. It is the only airline with direct flights to not take action so far.

The White House was considering issuing a ban on flights between the United States and China, as of late Jan. 28[11]. Italy has announced on January 31 that it was suspending all flights to and from China following the first 2 cases of coronavirus in Italy.

Travel Alert: Do Not Travel to China

  • The U.S. State Department on January 30 issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel to China Alert [4] (the highest level of alert).
  • Previously, on January 29, the advisory was set at a lower “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” advising not to travel to Hubei Province: (Level 4) and reconsider travel to the remainder of China (Level 3).
  • The CDC on Jan. 28 issued a Level 3 Warning, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China [5].

Screening incoming passengers at 20 airports in the U.S.

On January 17, the CDC announced that 3 airports in the United States would begin screening incoming passengers from China: SFO, JFK, and LAX [6] Other 2 airports were added subsequently, and on January 28, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that 15 additional U.S. airports (bringing the total to 20) would begin screening incoming travelers from China.

Below is the complete list of airports where screening for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is in place:

  • Los Angeles International (LAX)
  • San Francisco International (SFO)
  • Chicago O’Hare
  • New York JFK
  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International
  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental 
  • Dallas-Fort Worth International
  • San Diego International
  • Seattle-Tacoma International
  • Honolulu International
  • Anchorage Ted Stevens International
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul International
  • Detroit Metropolitan
  • Miami International
  • Washington Dulles International
  • Philadelphia International
  • Newark Liberty International
  • Boston Logan International
  • El Paso International
  • Puerto Rico’s San Juan Airport

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