Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart becomes first member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus

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WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 12: Rep. Mario Diaz -Balart (R-FL) speaks to reporters following the weekly House GOP Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol on January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. Rep. Diaz -Balart will give the Spanish response to President Obama’s last State Of The Union address. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida has become the first member of Congress to test positive for coronavirus.

“On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms including a fever and headache. Just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19,” his office said in a news release.

Diaz-Balart said in a statement that he is “feeling much better” but urged the public to take the virus “extremely seriously.”

The unsettling development underscores the unique challenge facing lawmakers as they both grapple with how to contain the spread of coronavirus throughout the US and take steps to avoid spreading it within Congress.

Thus far, at least 14 other lawmakers have announced steps to self-quarantine or otherwise isolate themselves as a precaution after coming into contact with an infected individual.

CNN previously reported that a number of House and Senate offices have begun practicing how they would operate if a chunk of aides were forced into quarantine and had to work from home, according to congressional sources.

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