Politics

Sen. Rand Paul Tests Positive For Coronavirus

He was the only senator to vote against a recent aid package passed by Congress to address the coronavirus emergency.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently self-quarantining. He is the first U.S. senator to report a positive test for the virus.

Paul was the only senator to vote against the bill funding emergency aid to combat coronavirus that passed the House and Senate on March 5. He was one of eight senators who voted against the most recent congressional aid package, signed into law on March 18, which provides some paid sick leave, unemployment help, and supposedly free testing for the public — though as outlined here, there are loopholes, like the one that allows health insurance companies to still charge people for testing if they go to an out-of-network provider. There are other "surprise billing" concerns as well.

Paul's office said that the senator received a test despite showing no symptoms and having no known contacts with anyone who had tested positive, one of the qualifications that is often reported as necessary for obtaining a test right now. Thousands of people who feel ill say they still cannot obtain tests for COVID-19, as doctors and hospitals are still reporting shortages.

Paul was in Senate office buildings last week, though his office says he has had limited recent contact with staff members. A photo from a congressional reporter shows him sitting with other senators as recently as Friday.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's other senator, has so far resisted calls to move to remote voting in the Senate despite concerns over proximity. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) is one of many who are pointing out that Paul's positive diagnosis adds even more urgency to the idea that Congress should be working remotely.