Coronavirus: Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams become first two members of Congress to test positive

Other members of Congress, including Florida Sen. Rick Scott, have self-quarantined after meeting with a Brazilian official who tested positive for the virus


                            Coronavirus: Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams become first two members of Congress to test positive
Mario Mario Diaz-Balart, Ben McAdams (AP Photo)

US Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami has become the first known member of Congress to test positive for the new coronavirus as made it known on March 18.

Diaz-Balart had placed himself under self-quarantine in the nation’s capital on Friday, March 13, according to a statement. He said he decided not to return to South Florida because his wife has a pre-existing medical condition. Diaz-Balart has served in the US House of Representatives since 2003.

Diaz-Balart said he developed symptoms, including a fever and headache, on Saturday, March 14. He learned Wednesday, March 18, that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better,” Diaz-Balart said in a 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 this virus.” 

He added of the global pandemic now reshaping American life: “We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times.”

Shortly afterward, Democratic US Rep. Ben McAdams from Utah tested positive for the coronavirus on March 18. McAdams said he first became sick with “mild, cold-like symptoms” shortly after returning to Salt Lake City from Washington on Saturday, March 14. He went to his doctor the next day and began isolating himself at home and holding meetings on the phone.

After his symptoms got worse, including a fever, a dry cough and labored breathing, he was tested at a local clinic and received his result on Wednesday, March 18.

McAdams said in a statement he is still working from home “until I know it is safe to end my self-quarantine.” He urged residents to “take this seriously and follow the health recommendations” coming from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts.

Other members of Congress, including Florida Sen. Rick Scott, have self-quarantined after meeting with a Brazilian official who was part of a delegation visiting South Florida and later tested positive for the virus, but none of the US representatives or senators have reported positive test results.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tested positive for the virus last week. It wasn’t immediately known whether Diaz-Balart had met with the Brazilian delegation.

The new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people, but older adults and those with existing health problems can develop severe complications, including pneumonia.

According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

More 320 coronavirus cases have been reported in Florida, with at least seven deaths, whereas in Utah, the total number of people with the virus rose to 64 on Wednesday, March 18 and 10 of them were visitors from outside the state.