The Senate reconvened in D.C. this week despite lingering concerns about the susceptibility of its members to the Coronavirus. Many Senators, after all, are on the older side, and the virus is believed to hit older people harder. Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul faced questioning from reporters this week over his refusal to wear a face mask amidst the tumult despite his own past infection with the virus, and he dubiously claimed in response that he’s immune from future re-infections with the virus because of his past case. In reality, there’s no apparently conclusive evidence one way or the other on the question of whether infected individuals can become reinfected after recovery or are immune.
Nevertheless, Paul claimed to reporters:
‘I’ve already had the virus, so I can’t get it again, and I can’t give it to anybody.’
After a reporter pointed out recent reporting about discovery of a strain of the virus that can reinfect previously ill people, Paul employed the “that’s fake news” attempt at a defense. He insisted, in reference to the reporting about the possibility of re-infection:
‘That’s not true. I can’t get it again, nor can I transmit it. So of all the people you’ll meet here, I’m about the only safe person in Washington.’
There is no evidence to support this claim, by Sen. Rand Paul, M.D.: https://t.co/8i9DPGJO7J
— David Gura 🏡 (@davidgura) May 5, 2020
Again — there is no actual conclusive evidence supporting Paul’s notion that he can’t get reinfected because of his past bout with the virus. It’s unclear what source made him think so conclusively-sounding otherwise.
This incident is not the first time that Paul has seemed to act recklessly regarding Coronavirus issues. When he first tested positive for the virus, he actually went to use the Senate gym while waiting for his test results, which ended up coming back positive. His behavior led fellow Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, both of whom are Republicans from Utah, to quarantine themselves out of an abundance of caution in case they had become infected and would end up developing symptoms. (Neither did.)
At the time, Paul wasn’t experiencing any symptoms and got tested out of an abundance of caution considering his recent travel — but he had enough concern to get tested, and yet, he put his colleagues at risk anyway.
In this most recent situation, there’s been a lot of concern about the potential risks of bringing the Senate back into session amidst continued Coronavirus spread. Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) suggested this week that Congress could become a “Coronavirus spreading machine” in the absence of testing for members that would allow medical personnel to catch cases.
Alexander admonished Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to accept the White House’s offer of testing assistance, commenting:
‘We’re doubling the amount of testing up to two million a week, there ought to be enough tests to test 535 members of Congress who come to one of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots before they go back home around the country and infect people in their districts. Members of Congress would represent sort of a virus-spreading machine, coming in here to a coronavirus hot spot and then going home.’
So far, besides Paul, members of Congress who have contracted the Coronavirus include House members from Utah and Florida. The House will return soon after delaying their return that had been planned for this week.