President Donald Trump took to Twitter Sunday night after learning that Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. In his message, Trump, 73, called Paul, 57, a "friend" and offered an update on his condition.
"My friend (always there when I've needed him!), Senator [Rand Paul], was just tested 'positive' from the Chinese Virus," Trump said, using his controversial term for the coronavirus that multiple health officials have warned against using. "That is not good! He is strong and will get better. Just spoke to him and he was in good spirits." The Kentucky Republican is the first US senator to test positive for coronavirus, with the news coming the same day that Democrats blocked a massive coronavirus economic stimulus package Sunday evening.
A statement from Paul's office posted to his Twitter account Sunday that he was "asymptomatic," "feeling fine" and was "tested out of an abundance of caution." But some members of Congress have expressed disappointment that Paul didn't do more to self-quarantine earlier and for potentially exposing senators to the coronavirus after he attended a black-tie social event in Louisville, Kentucky, two weeks ago. Several attendees have subsequently tested positive, including the wife of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told fellow senators Sunday at a lunch that Paul was tested because he had been at that event, sources told CNN.
Paul had already shut down his office, telling his staff to work from home about a week and a half ago, CNN's Jake Tapper reported.
In 2019, Paul had part of his lung removed after a 2017 attack by his neighbor at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The attack also left Paul with six broken ribs and bruised lungs. He still occasionally experiences shortness of breath.
Continue on to read how social media reacted to Trump's tweet about Paul's diagnosis.
Photo credit: Pool / Pool / Getty
Some people sent well wishes to Paul.
We will all defeat this coronavirus. Prayers for Rand Paul.— RD (@real_defender) March 23, 2020
Praying 4 Rand & his family while I see others here celebrating
We r seeing great unity & compassion throughout the nation in this crisis
But there is a small population of very nasty people who are reveling in what’s going on because they so filled with hateref 4 the President— Melissa A. (@TheRightMelissa) March 23, 2020
Others criticized Trump for his cavalier attitude toward the coronavirus before it was widespread across the world and declared a pandemic.
How can he get something you called fake for two months and rejected testing that would have stopped it? I'm confused.— Todd Poirier (@todd_poirier) March 23, 2020
Many, including actress Mia Farrow, pleaded with the president to call it by its technical name instead of the "Chinese Virus," which health officials have called xenophobic.
Stoppit. You are stigmatizing 21 million Asian Americans and exposing them to potential bullying or worse. ITS THE CORONA VIRUS #beBest— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) March 23, 2020
Despite widespread condemnation of the term, Trump continues to call COVID-19 the "Chinese Virus." The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield said during his House testimony last week that it was "absolutely wrong and inappropriate" to call the coronavirus the "Chinese coronavirus." Mike Ryan, head of WHO's health emergency programs, had a similar sentiment, telling the South China Morning Post last week that "I think we've been very clear right since the beginning of this event that viruses know no borders and they don't care [about] your ethnicity, the color of your skin, how much money you have in the bank."
You only use “Chinese virus” because you know it’s stokes your base, a bunch of vile, racist, white supremacist, degenerates, always looking for a non-white person to blame something on. That’s the reason they voted for you.— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) March 23, 2020
Some called out Trump for previously publicly slamming Paul.
Your "friend"? There's always a tweet. pic.twitter.com/JA2dY03Euf— Mike Pence - Professional Mannequin (@vespertilioAJR) March 23, 2020
The reaction to Paul's diagnosis was swift and severe, with many people criticizing him for not properly isolating himself even after he was aware he could potentially be infected.
Tell me how Rand Paul knowingly going for a swim in the US Senate pool and lunching with other Senators while waiting for his coronavirus test results is any different than those a-holes who licked Blue Bell ice cream containers in the store and put them back.— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) March 23, 2020
Others wondered how Paul was able to get tested despite showing no symptoms. It's possible that Paul, who had part of his lung removed and therefore has an underlying health issue, qualified as someone who should be tested, especially after appearing at an event in Kentucky where others were carrying the virus.
Rand Paul got tested even though he had no symptoms... I'm so sick of this shit.
Who's with me?— Angela Belcamino (@AngelaBelcamino) March 23, 2020