Ted Cruz staying at home after exposure to man with coronavirus

Politics

In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, rides an escalator before speaking with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — GOP Sen. Ted Cruz said Sunday he will remain at his home in Texas after learning that he shook hands and briefly chatted with a man in suburban Washington who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Maryland reported two new cases on Sunday, raising to five the total confirmed cases in the state.

In Maryland, a Harford County resident in her 80s who contracted the virus while traveling overseas and was hospitalized and a Montgomery County resident in his 60s who contracted the virus while traveling overseas and was briefly hospitalized.

In a separate case of coronavirus, a prominent Episcopal church in Washington, D.C., suspended all activities after announcing that one of its senior leaders was the first person in the nation’s capital to test positive for the virus.

The Rev. Timothy Cole, the rector of Christ Church Georgetown, was in stable condition after being hospitalized Saturday night, according to a statement from the Rev. Crystal Hardin, the assistant rector.

In an unrelated case, Cruz said he met the man being treated for coronavirus 10 days ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Oxon Hill, Maryland. The Texas Republican said he’s not experiencing any symptoms, feels fine and has been advised by medical authorities that the odds of transmission were extremely low.

Yet, Cruz said, out of an abundance of caution he will remain at home in Texas for another few days until a full 14 days have passed since the interaction. He said medical authorities advised him that those who have interacted with him in the last 10 days should not be concerned about potential transmission.

David Popp, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said Sunday evening that no changes have been made in the chamber’s schedule in the wake of Cruz’s decision to remain in Texas.

The Senate has a vote scheduled Monday evening and plans to be in session this week considering energy and possibly other legislation. The Senate and the House are set for a one-week recess the week of March 16.

Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke at CPAC, but the White House said there was no indication that either had met or were in “close proximity” to the infected attendee.

According to Christ Church Georgetown website, Cole has been the rector since September 2016, is married and has two children.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Christ Church has canceled all activities including church services until further notice. We recommend that concerned community members contact their health care providers,” the statement said.

Officials on Saturday had announced the district’s first positive test, but identified the victim only as a man in his 50s. A second local positive test involves a man who visited the Washington area from Nigeria, but he was being hospitalized in Maryland, Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Health officials said Sunday said they had determined as part of their investigation that “an individual’s visitation to Christ Church Georgetown warrants precautionary measures” and they recommended a temporary halt to services. In response, the church publicly identified Cole as the victim.

The Washington mayor’s office said a city high school is staying closed Monday, though no new confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported. Three people who stayed at the same house as the Nigerian man who tested positive in Maryland were tested Sunday and all were negative. But one of them works at School Without Walls High School, which is being kept closed to give staff time to communicate with staff and parents and to clean the school.

Virginia recorded its first case Saturday when a Marine stationed at Fort Belvoir and living at the Quantico base was found to have the virus. On Sunday, Virginia officials announced a second case involving a Fairfax man in his 80s who took a Nile River cruise.

Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, director of epidemiology and population health for the Fairfax County health department, said the Fairfax man developed systems of respiratory illness on Feb. 28 and was hospitalized on March 5. He remains hospitalized but is in stable condition and not in an intensive care unit, Schwartz said.

“Fortunately, the individual had limited contact with others while ill, and therefore the risk to the general Fairfax community remains low,” said the county’s health director, Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensa.

Virginia state epidemiologist Dr. Lilian Peake said testing for the Fort Belvoir case was done at Walter Reed medical center, and testing for the Fairfax resident was done at a state lab in Richmond.

“The two cases are not related,” Peake said. “At this point, there are no signs of the virus spreading in the community in Virginia.”

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