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Blumenthal, Murphy End Quarantine After Potential COVID-19 Exposure

Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
Sen. Richard Blumenthal listens during a news conference after two people were killed in a steam explosion at a facilities building on the West Haven VA hospital’s campus, Nov. 13, 2020.";

Connecticut’s two U.S. senators may have been exposed to the coronavirus in West Haven last week. Yet despite that potential exposure, both senators left quarantine this week for Washington, D.C.

Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy attended a media availability at the West Haven VA Medical Center after an explosion there on Friday. Also present was Gov. Ned Lamont, along with Lamont’s communications director, Max Reiss, who shortly afterward announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I was never in close contact with the governor’s staff member that tested positive,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal left for the nation’s capital on Monday, saying he had to get there to thwart President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve’s board of governors.

“I self-isolated for three full days, received two negative tests, as did the governor and Sen. Murphy,” Blumenthal said.

“I would've probably preferred to stay in Connecticut, but Sen. [Mitch] McConnell decided to go ahead with a controversial vote today, and mine was one of the decisive votes.”

Blumenthal is relying on tests taken within two days of his potential exposure, but COVID-19 might not be detected in someone that quickly.

Keith Grant, a senior system director of infection prevention for the Hartford HealthCare network, said the science would suggest not relying on a test result unless it’s four days out from a potential exposure.

“About 97 to 98 percent of tests of symptoms, for the actual incubation period -- about 97 percent shows up in the first 11 days,” Grant said. “So, 14 days should capture the 100 percent.”

Grant’s assertion is consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends a 14-day quarantine after exposure.

The fact that COVID-19 could’ve spread in such a public fashion raises questions about news briefings in the time of coronavirus. Blumenthal said it won’t stop him.

“I’m going to continue wearing masks and taking all of the precautions, but of course, we also have a job to do as we recognized there in answering questions about the VA explosion and sending condolences to the family of loved ones who were lost,” Blumenthal said.

Murphy said he quarantined for the weekend and then broke it, based on advice from the federal Office of the Attending Physician.

“I received a negative result on that test and returned to work after the OAP determined that I did not need to further isolate,” Murphy said in a written statement.

Frankie Graziano is the host of 'The Wheelhouse,' focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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