Five senior members of the Republican Party in the United States, including Senator Ted Cruz, have quarantined themselves fearing they were exposed to the virus at a conservative conference just outside Washington, DC.
There are also concerns that President Donald Trump could be exposed to the virus through contact with two of those legislators.
Matt Gaetz travelled with Trump on Air Force One on Monday. Doug Collins was with the president on Friday during a coronavirus briefing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters.
Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Mark Meadows, also went into self-quarantine on Monday after learning he may also have been exposed at the same conference. Meadows is not exhibiting any symptoms and a precautionary test came back negative, a spokesman said.
Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar was the fifth politician to go into self-quarantine.
Trump has not been tested for the virus, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said on Monday evening.
Congressman Doug Collins, now under self-quarantine after meeting with a person who tested positive for #coronavirus, was seen greeting President Donald Trump upon his arrival in Georgia https://t.co/l89JeCSs7t pic.twitter.com/1tab6TEQPC
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 10, 2020
The president, who flew back to Washington, DC after weekend golfing at his Florida resort and having dinner with Brazil’s president, has spent weeks dismissing the seriousness of the threat.
But after an emergency meeting with administration staff, he told journalists on Monday that he would propose “very substantial” economic measures to Congress on Tuesday.
These will include tax relief and aid for workers in the gig economy who worry about calling in sick to ensure they are “not going to miss a pay cheque” and “don’t get penalised for something that’s not their fault”.
The concern that Trump might be infected resulted in US stocks plummeting, feeding growing national anxiety. On Monday, the Dow Jones closed 7.8 percent lower in the worst session since 2008.
Stories of new cases flooded in across the country – from a Washington, DC church rector to the head of New York’s ports authority, while some stores ran out of hand sanitiser and masks.
Since the epidemic began, Trump has veered between defending his government from accusations of incompetence to accusing Democrats and the media of exaggerating the outbreak in an attempt to hurt his standing.