‘Being Smart, Prudent, Diligent’: U.S. Capitol Is Being Closed To Tourists, Lobbyists. Lawmakers Still At Work.
Many lawmakers said they felt uneasy about throngs of tour groups and lobbyists continuing to shuffle between offices on a daily basis, defying guidance from U.S. public health agencies. The news came as a staffer in Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-Wash.) office tested positive for the virus.
U.S. Capitol To Stop All Public Tours Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
The U.S. Capitol will cease all public tours through at least the end of March amid mounting fears of a widespread coronavirus outbreak, according to multiple people familiar with the decision. Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed members of the decision in a Wednesday afternoon meeting, which is intended to help prevent the spread of the virus across the sprawling Capitol campus, where many senior-aged lawmakers are already at higher risk. The restriction applies to all tours — public, staff-led and member-led. (Ferris, Zandoma and Cayble, 3/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
Coronavirus Infections Reach Government Ranks
About a half dozen Capitol Hill lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), have put themselves in self-quarantine, though none have become sick or tested positive for coronavirus. Several of them took the step after coming into contact with an infected man at a conservative political conference. The spread of coronavirus through the halls of government marks an acute challenge for institutions that—by their very nature—are more vulnerable to the virus. Many heads of state and lawmakers are in their 70s and 80s, an age group that has had a heightened rate of mortality from the virus. They are also accustomed to working in groups to hash out legislation and cast votes, potentially depriving them of what health experts consider a first-line of defense: social distancing. (Meichtry and Andrews, 3/11)
Senate Staffer Tests Positive For Coronavirus
A staffer in Sen. Maria Cantwell's D.C. office has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Washington state Democratic senator announced on Wednesday night. The announcement marks the first known instance of a congressional staffer getting the virus and follows days of heightened anxiety on Capitol Hill. The staffer, according to a notice from Cantwell's office, has been isolated since they started to have symptoms. Cantwell is closing her D.C. office for the remainder of the week for a deep cleaning. (Carney, 3/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Capitol Building To Limit Tours Due To Coronavirus Pandemic
Congressional offices were hit with their first confirmed case of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and leaders said they planned to close the U.S. Capitol building to tours, as health concerns mounted among lawmakers. An aide in the office of Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) has tested positive for Covid-19, her office said in a statement. The aide has been in isolation since symptoms developed, and the senator has closed her Washington, D.C., office this week for cleaning while her staff works remotely. (Hughes and Andrews, 3/11)
Staffer In Sen. Maria Cantwell’s D.C. Office Tests Positive For Coronavirus
Lawmakers and aides have said for weeks that a case of coronavirus in the Capitol was all but inevitable. The challenge, they say, is preventing the spread in the massive complex, where hundreds of people stream in and out of House and Senate office buildings on a daily basis. While no members of Congress have so far been diagnosed with the coronavirus, several have self-quarantined after being exposed to individuals infected with the disease. Among the lawmakers who self-quarantined are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Reps. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). (Levine, 3/11)