Florida Rep Is First of Two Congressmen to Test Positive for Coronavirus, Developed Symptoms Saturday

Florida Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart has tested positive for coronavirus according to a Wednesday press release, making him the first U.S. congressman to contract the illness.

Diaz-Balart placed himself under self-quarantine after developing coronavirus symptoms, electing not to return to his home in Florida because his wife, Tia, has a pre-existing medical condition that places her at higher risk for contracting the virus.

"I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better," Diaz-Balart said in a Wednesday statement. "However, it is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of the virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times."

Newsweek reached out to Diaz-Balart's office for further comment.

Diaz-Balart voted in favor of a coronavirus economic relief package on Saturday which included paid sick leave, expanded unemployment benefits and free virus testing for individuals without insurance.

Soon after Diaz-Balart made his announcement, Democratic Representative Ben McAdams of Utah's 4th Congressional District, also said he tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement released on Twitter, he said that he too developed symptoms on Saturday. He vowed to continue working from home as he self-quarantines.

"I'm doing my part as all Americans are doing to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the coronavirus outbreak. I urge Utahns to take this seriously and follow the health recommendations we're getting from the CDC and other health experts so that we can recover from this public health threat," McAdams said.

mario diaz-balart
Florida Representative Mario Diaz-Balart announced on Wednesday that he had tested positive for coronavirus and would self-quarantine. Paula Bustamante/AFP/Getty

Florida has seen a rise in the number of coronavirus cases with recent data indicating 314 confirmed coronavirus patients within Florida's borders. That number has grown since Tuesday, when Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference there were only 216 confirmed cases.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez placed himself into isolation after testing positive for the virus earlier in March. Those who have come in contact with Suarez, including his wife and children, have tested negative for the virus.

During his self-quarantine, Suarez has posted videos on social media describing how he feels on a day-to-day basis.

"Today, I feel well rested and still have minor symptoms," Suarez tweeted Thursday. "The longer I live with COVID-19, the more I understand just how crucial social distancing is. Just because you feel good doesn't mean you can't infect others. Let's think about each other during this time. #InThisTogether"

Florida Representative Matt Gaetz placed himself into self-quarantine after coming into contact with an individual who had been exposed to coronavirus during a political convention in February. Gaetz made the announcement hours after he traveled on Air Force One with President Donald Trump aboard, leading to speculation that Trump may have contracted the virus. However, coronavirus testing for Gaetz came back negative.

After delaying taking the coronavirus test for days, Trump finally consented on Friday. Results from the test came back negative.

At a Monday press conference, Trump described the test as "certainly something I don't want to do every day. There was nothing pleasant about it."

Other lawmakers self-quarantined themselves after possible exposure to the virus including Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz ended his self-quarantine on Tuesday.

"I still have no symptoms and feel healthy," Cruz said in a Tuesday statement. "We need to work quickly and we need to be guided by the facts and the medical science, not politics. People's lives, and their livelihoods, are on the line."

Update (3/18, 8:45 p.m.): This article has been updated with the news that McAdams also tested positive for COVID-19.

Florida Rep Is First of Two Congressmen to Test Positive for Coronavirus, Developed Symptoms Saturday | U.S.