Senator Rick Scott, Republican from Florida, said Friday he tested positive for coronavirus, the youngest prominent lawmaker to contract the fast-spreading virus that infected at least eight members of Congress in the past week.
Mr Scott, 67, said he has been in quarantine at his Naples home since last Friday after coming into contact with someone in Florida who later tested positive for the virus. He said he took several rapid tests earlier in the week that came back negative, but a PCR test he did on Tuesday came back positive on Friday.
PCR-based tests are slower but much more accurate than rapid tests, which are easy to miss if the virus is present in the body in small amounts. It can also take a few days after exposure for someone to score positive on a coronavirus test, even if they are already infected.
In a statement, Mr. Scott said he felt “fine” and had “very mild symptoms”. He said he would work from home until it was safe to return to Washington. The Senate is not expected to resume work until the end of the month.
He encouraged Americans to wear masks, keep their distance from others, and go into quarantine if they encounter someone positive for the virus.
“As we get closer to Thanksgiving, we know this holiday will be different this year,” he said. “But listen to the public health officials and follow their instructions. We will do this together, but we must all be accountable. “
A few months ago, Mr Scott turned down a mask mandate but argued that everyone should wear it. Like most legislators, he took off his mask when speaking on the microphone. Last month, at press conferences, reporters insisted that lawmakers wear their masks.
As of Nov. 12, eight members of Congress – including two Senators, Scott and Chuck Grassley from Iowa – have reported that they tested positive for the virus.
Mr Grassley, 87, a Republican who announced he tested positive on Tuesday, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that he had remained “symptom-free and isolated”.
Members of the House who tested positive this past week are six Republicans: Don Young, 87, of Alaska; Tim Walberg, 69, of Michigan; Dan Newhouse, 65, of Washington; and Doug Lamborn, 66, of Colorado; and two Democrats, Cheri Bustos, 59, of Illinois; Ed Perlmutter, 67, from Colorado.