Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has tested positive for the coronavirus, his office announced on Sunday. The lawmaker issued a statement saying that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that is now a global pandemic. The senator is taking ever precaution to avoid spreading the illness.
"Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19," the statement read. "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 an 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."
Rand Paul tests positive for coronavirus. Note from his office pic.twitter.com/W7MI4uc4Uf— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) March 22, 2020
"Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Paul," the statement concluded.
The news shocked Americans everywhere as the latest case of a prominent public figure contracting the virus. Many responded with questions about how and why the senator was tested as the nation faces a massive shortage of coronavirus tests. They cited anecdotal stories of people with severe symptoms unable to get tests.
"Hey it's really cool the system allows asymptomatic rich people to get tested but not allow for regular symptomatic people to get tested," one person wrote sarcastically. "Your system is working great!"
"So he got a test with no symptoms, but regular Americans cannot," added another.
Why was he tested when he was still asymptomatic when the rest of us have to be on our deathbed before we can get tested?— michele collins (@michele5411) March 22, 2020
Paul is the first U.S. senator known to test positive for COVID-19, according to a report by NBC News, but not all lawmakers have been tested. Two congressmen have also tested positive — Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Rep. Ben McAdams of Utah. On Saturday, Diaz-Balart told NBC News that the illness hit him "like a ton of bricks."
Paul is now expected to miss a vote in the Senate on Sunday afternoon, meant to either pass or deny a massive coronavirus relief package. Senate Republicans are asking for the final vote on Monday.
Just last week, Paul came under fire for slowing the process of voting on that coronavirus package. The senator was pushing hard for an amendment to the package, which would "require a social security number for purposes of the child tax credit, and to provide the President the authority to transfer funds as necessary, and to terminate United States military operations and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan," according to a report by NBC News.
As it is, the package would provide free coronavirus testing, secure paid emergency leave, enhanced unemployment insurance, increased Medicaid funding and stronger food security initiatives for Americans.
For the latest on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the CDC's website.