Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the incoming White House chief of staff, said Monday he would self-quarantine after potentially coming into contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, according to media reports.
Meadows was told this weekend he “may have come in contact” with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, last month. His office said he was tested out of an “abundance of caution,” and that he would isolate himself until a two-week period had passed.
“A precautionary test came back negative & he feels great,” Ben Williamson, Meadows’ spokesman, wrote on Twitter. “He’ll be self-quarantined till the 14 day period passes Wednesday.”
Four other Republican lawmakers, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.). Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Doug Collins (Ga.), also attended CPAC and interacted with the infected person. Two of those, Gaetz and Collins, also interacted directly with the president, and Gaetz rode on Air Force One with Trump on Monday.
Another lawmaker, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), said he had also been advised that he may have been exposed at the conference but said he would not self-quarantine.
“I took the advice of the expert and returned to work,” Gohmert said on Twitter. “No one is panicking, and we are observing the recommended precautions.”
Meadows was named Trump’s new chief of staff on Friday after the president pushed out Mick Mulvaney. The lawmaker has been a fierce ally of the administration for years and was a vocal defender during Trump’s impeachment inquiry in the House.
“We have a very strong economy,” Trump said at the time. “This blindsided the world, and I think we’ve done very, very well.”
He declined to answer if he had been tested for the virus, abruptly leaving the press conference before handing the microphone over to Vice President Mike Pence, who has been tasked with leading the nation’s response to the outbreak.
Pence spent his time praising Trump’s efforts, saying the White House was doing a “remarkable job” and that the president had shown he was “putting the health of the American people first.”
In the U.S., more than 600 people in 35 states and the District of Columbia had been diagnosed with the coronavirus as of Monday.