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How The Coronavirus Has Affected Individual Members Of Congress

The U.S. Capitol is seen on April 13.
The U.S. Capitol is seen on April 13.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought the daily work of Congress to a halt.

House and Senate leaders delayed bringing back members until May due to the outbreak, as public health guidelines recommend continued social distancing.

Before the two chambers switched to working remotely, the virus infected several lawmakers and forced many more members to self-quarantine. Some have announced symptoms from their home districts.

Two Republican lawmakers, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, were the first members of Congress to announce self-quarantines, on March 8. Both had attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., a few days earlier. An attendant at the conference had fallen ill, its organizers revealed.

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The following week, the first two members of Congress announced they had tested positive for the illness. Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Utah Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams both said they developed symptoms after a March 14 vote on a coronavirus relief package.

Since the outbreak spread further, dozens more lawmakers have entered self-quarantines as a result of exposure to someone who was sick, including fellow members of Congress, constituents and dignitaries. For example, two Republican senators from Utah, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, quarantined after their colleague, Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, tested positive. Paul was on Capitol Hill and asymptomatic just before receiving his positive test result on March 22.

By the end of March, Congress had entered into an extended recess with lawmakers largely restricted to working from home.

Leaders have said members of Congress must take special precautions to return to Washington, D.C., to vote on any new coronavirus relief measures.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Corrected: April 16, 2020 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina as a Republican. He is a Democrat.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.
Audrey Carlsen