U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton announced Wednesday afternoon that he is self-quarantining after experiencing mild symptoms of potential COVID-19.
While the Massachusetts congressman, who represents the 6th District communities north of Boston, hasn’t been tested for the disease, he and his wife, Liz, began feeling unwell Thursday and were advised by doctors to stay home “out of an abundance of caution.”
So far, three other members of Congress have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 30 have had to self-quarantine after being potentially exposed to the disease. Moulton is the first member of the Massachusetts delegation to do so.
“On Thursday, I began feeling unwell with a low grade fever and a concerning tightness in my chest, to a degree I’ve never felt before, that lasted several days. I have also had a sore throat, though no serious cough, along with body aches and unusual fatigue,” the Salem Democrat said in a statement released by his office.
The former 2020 presidential candidate added that nearly all of his staffers had been working from home since “well before” he began experiencing symptoms.
“When it became clear in the last 24 hours that the House of Representatives might be called back in the coming days to vote on key legislation, requiring me to travel back to Washington and potentially infect other people, I decided to call the VA, which is my primary care provider, and the House’s Attending Physician,” Moulton said. “I also spoke with a friend who is an ER doctor who felt I should get tested immediately. But as the House doctor explained, I am ‘symptomatic,’ but because the symptoms are minor and a test would not change my treatment protocol, my wife and I don’t qualify for tests.”
At his doctors’ direction, Moulton said he will stay at home until at least seven days after his symptoms improve and 72 hours after the fever subsides.
“Unless my symptoms take a turn for the worse, that would be this Saturday,” Moulton said.
“I have been steadily improving and even went for a run yesterday, carefully keeping my distance from others, but I don’t want to risk the chance that I pass this, or whatever other respiratory illness I have if it is not the coronavirus, on to a colleague or fellow traveler,” he added.
Moulton said the same timeline applied for Liz and that they were “happy to report” that their 18-month-old daughter, Emmy, has had no symptoms. Research has showed that the virus has largely spared children. A spokesman for Moulton told Boston.com that the family was self-quarantining at their house in Salem.
“I’m making this public because I will potentially miss some important votes as a result,” Moulton said, promising to make his position on those votes “very clear” ahead of time.
His announcement comes just hours after the White House struck a deal with Senate negotiators on a $2 trillion package to send relief to individuals, businesses, and local governments affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The House is currently in recess, but Rep. Nancy Pelosi is hoping they can approve the bill through unanimous consent. The tactic would not necessarily require representatives to return to Washington, D.C. — but does allow a single member to block the measure.
If that happens, the House will likely turn to a voice vote or a roll call vote Thursday afternoon, according to Politico.
Moulton has called for the government response to prioritize increasing the supply of health care equipment needed to treat COVID-19 patients, broad relief for individuals affected by the economic impact, and assistance for small businesses.
Moulton also cast blame on President Donald Trump’s administration for the shortage in available coronavirus tests, which he called a “major failure.”
“People with symptoms should be tested, and the fact that tests are not available for Liz and me and far too many other Americans, a month after I wrote to the vice president demanding more widespread testing, is a major failure of the administration that I will continue fighting to fix,” he said. “We will get through this pandemic by working together from home, and we’ll be a stronger country on the other side.”
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