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Utah Sen. Mike Lee tests positive for coronavirus

Utahns in Congress react to Pres. Trump, first lady getting COVID-19

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, arrives at the Capitol in Washington on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. On Friday, Lee announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19, Utah Sen. Mike Lee also announced that he has come down with the disease.

Lee said he was tested Thursday after having symptoms consistent with longtime allergies.

“Out of abundance of caution, I sought medical advice and was tested for COVID-19. Unlike the test I took just a few days ago while visiting the White House, yesterday’s test came back positive,” he said in a statement.

Lee attended the Rose Garden ceremony last Saturday where Trump announced the nomination of federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy left by the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

CNN video of the event shows Lee hugging and shaking hands with other people while holding a mask in his hand. Lee met with Barrett on Tuesday at the Capitol and posed for pictures. Neither was wearing a mask or social distancing.

Lee said he will isolate for the next 10 days on advice of the Senate doctor. None of the senator’s staff have tested positive, said Lee spokesman Conn Carroll. Lee is the second member of the Utah delegation to get the virus.

“Like so many other Utahns, I will spend part of 2020 working from home,” he said.

Lee said he has told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that he will be back for the confirmation hearings for Barrett. The committee, of which Lee is a member, is scheduled to start the hearings Oct. 12.

Trump tweeted early Friday that he and the first lady had tested positive for coronavirus. The positive test came hours after the White House announced that senior aide Hope Hicks came down with the virus after traveling with the president several times this week.

“The president and first lady contracting COVID-19 further validates how serious this is and how we all need to take precaution,” said Republican Rep. John Curtis. “I extend my best wishes for a speedy recovery to both of them.”

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, wished Trump and his wife a “swift and complete recovery. Our prayers are with them and all the others who have been afflicted with illness.”

Romney and Lee both isolated for two weeks in March after being in close contact with another senator who contracted the virus.

On Friday, Romney tweeted, “Wishing my friend @SenMikeLee a speedy recovery. As Utah continues to see high numbers of new cases, I encourage all Utahns to continue following public health guidance, including wearing masks and practicing proper social distancing.”

Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah’s only Democrat in Congress, was hospitalized after becoming severely ill with COVID-19 in March.

He said he and his wife, Julie, are keeping the Trumps in their thoughts and praying for their speedy recovery.

“As someone who has had the virus, I know how terrible it can be,” McAdams said. “I continue to urge everyone to follow the public health guidelines so we can reduce the spread.”

McAdams said he’s also keeping Lee and his family in his thoughts and prayers. “Wishing you a speedy recovery and return to good health.”

Republican Rep. Chris Stewart tweeted, “God bless President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS. Praying for their quick & full recovery.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert also expressed his thoughts to the president on Twitter saying, “Sorry to hear about your having tested positive for COVID-19. Best wishes on a speedy recovery!”

Former Democratic state Sen. Scott Howell, a Utah surrogate for former Joe Biden’s presidential election campaign, said they are praying for a safe recovery for the Trumps.

“Since the start of COVD-19, the campaign’s top priority has been the health of voters across the country. The Biden campaign has been working closely with public health experts to determine the best practices to campaign safely. They will continue to campaign with public health as our top priority,” he said.

Howell said the Bidens and their traveling staff have been regularly tested and committed to making a positive test result public. After Tuesday’s debate, the campaign is taking extra precautions to make sure Biden and his wife, Jill, are safe, he said.

The Bidens tested negative for the virus Friday, according to the campaign.