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Sen. Rand Paul Has Tested Positive For The Coronavirus

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has tested positive for the coronavirus. Above, Paul delivers a statement before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Feb. 11.
Sarah Silbiger
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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has tested positive for the coronavirus. Above, Paul delivers a statement before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Feb. 11.

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has become the first senator to test positive for the coronavirus. His staff says he is asymptomatic.

In a statement released on Sunday, Paul's deputy chief of staff, Sergio Gor, wrote:

"Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person. He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time. Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Paul."

Paul, a physician, was one of eight Republican senators who voted against a coronavirus relief package last week, after the Senate opposed his efforts to offset spending on the legislation.

Paul's staff explained his decision to get tested in a statement later on Sunday.

"Similar to the President and the Vice President, Senator Rand Paul decided to get tested after attending an event where two individuals subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, even though he wasn't aware of any direct contact with either one of them," the statement read. "Additionally, due to a prior lung injury, and subsequent surgery on his lung, Senator Paul is in a higher risk category as it relates to pulmonary issues."

His positive test comes amid continuing shortages of tests nationwide. As NPR's Vanessa Romo reported on Saturday:

State and local government leaders have been putting pressure on the Trump administration and the coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence to address widespread testing shortages. In response, the administration has turned to the private sector to help develop tests, vaccines and therapeutic medicines to help stem the pandemic.

As of 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday, at least two Republican senators had announced they are self-quarantining after contact with Paul — Utah's Mitt Romney and Mike Lee. Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., were already in self-quarantine due to contact with others who tested positive for the virus. That leaves 48 Republicans in the Senate available to vote, which could affect legislation, as any measure would need either unanimous consent or 60 votes to pass a necessary procedural vote. As a reminder, Congress does not currently allow remote voting.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ben Swasey is an editor on the Washington Desk who mostly covers politics and voting.

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