Arizona congressman tests positive for virus; 2nd this week

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WASHINGTON – The chairman of the House natural resources committee said on Saturday he tested positive for coronavirus days after sitting next to another panel member, Texas Representative Louie Gohmert, who has also tested positive. Representative Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Said in a statement he had the virus but, like Gohmert, was not showing any symptoms. He is at least the 11th member of Congress known to have tested positive for coronavirus.

It is not known where Grijalva, 72, caught the virus and whether it was from Gohmert, a Republican who questioned the use of masks and often walks the Capitol without one. Grijalva went into isolation after Gohmert tested positive on Wednesday, as the two had sat close to each other during a natural resources hearing the day before.

“While I can’t blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that some members of Congress are not taking this crisis seriously,” Grijalva said in the statement. “Many Republican members regularly strut around the Capitol without masks to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff and families. ”

Grijalva said he was told by the Capitol Hill attending physician that he had tested positive and would self-isolate in quarantine. He said he was feeling “good” and hoped for a speedy recovery.

Gohmert’s diagnosis has raised concerns across Capitol Hill, where no testing is required and masks are low. On that day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Capitol Hill officials set new mask mandates for the House side, including on the House floor and in members’ hallways and desks. .

In the Senate, where nearly all members have worn masks and offices are more dispersed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he saw no need for new terms.

On testing, Pelosi and McConnell have remained firm that there should be no special access for lawmakers until the general public has widespread workplace testing. They both said the equipment and testing should instead be directed at frontline workers.

Leaders in May rejected an offer by President Donald Trump to send rapid tests to Capitol Hill for lawmakers. The White House is testing anyone who is near the president, which is how Gohmert found out he had the virus. The Texas Republican was scheduled to travel with Trump to his home state that day.

Gohmert also attended a hearing with Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday and was caught on camera walking closely behind Barr without a mask as the Attorney General entered the courtroom. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said Barr was tested on Wednesday and the test came back negative.

At least two other lawmakers have quarantined themselves after coming into contact with Gohmert last week – Republican Kay Granger of Texas, who was sitting next to Gohmert on a Sunday flight to Washington, and Republican Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who dined with Gohmert on Monday.

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