Florida Rep. Díaz-Balart First in Congress to Test Positive for COVID-19

Congressman Maria Diaz Balart

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By Giselle Balido

March 19, 2020

The Cuban-American Republican is quarantined in Washington, D.C., while other local politicians who tested positive or were exposed to the virus, are in quarantine. 

As the number of total coronavirus cases in Florida jumped from 314 to 328 from Wednesday to Thursday, Miami Republican representative Mario Díaz-Balart became the first known member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19. Right after he announced his positive status on Wednesday, March 18, Ben McAdams, D-Utah, disclosed he also tested positive.

According to Diaz-Balart’s staff, the congressman decided to self-quarantine in Washington, D.C., after votes on Friday. Because his wife has a pre-existing medical condition that makes her especially susceptible to the virus, he decided not to return to Florida and, at this time, is still quarantined in Washington, D.C.

“It is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of the virus. We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times,” he said in a statement.

Mayor Francis Suárez Also Positive

Another Miami official who tested positive for coronavirus, city Mayor Francis Suarez, 42, was diagnosed on March 13 after meeting with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and his staffers at a local event.  

On a video posted March 16 Suarez, who has been describing the course of his disease on social media, expressed that he feels relatively well. “I feel slight congestion, no fever, no coughing, no body aches. So I’m very pleased with how I feel, very happy.”

His case is particularly relevant, as it supports what the medical community has been noting about COVID-19 in otherwise healthy people under 60: that their symptoms tend to be relatively mild as compared to the higher-risk elderly population. This emphasizes the need for social distancing and testing, to help stop the spread of the virus to vulnerable populations.

In addition, Suárez said that about 40 people who had close proximity to him have all tested negative.

Precautionary Quarantine

As a precaution, after interacting with individuals who tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the same event attended by Mayor Suárez, County Mayor Carlos Giménez and Sen. Rick Scott, among other local officials, decided to self-quarantine. This event was also attended by President Donald Trump, who announced he had tested negative for COVID-19. 

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