Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AK) announced Thursday that they will close their Capitol Hill offices following confirmation that a Senate staffer has tested positive for the coronavirus.
“In response to reports that an aide from another Senate office has tested positive for COVID-19, Sen. Cruz has temporarily closed the D.C. office out of an abundance of caution to protect the health and welfare of staff, constituents, and colleagues in Congress,” A Cruz spokesperson said in a statement.
The announcement comes as Cruz remains in self-quarantine due to his contact with an infected individual at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington, D.C.
Cotton said in a separate statement: “An aide in another Senate office has tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus; other congressional employees are likely to test positive in the days ahead. The most sensible course of action for the public and the congressional workforce under the circumstances is for my staff to telecommute.”
The Arkansas Republican’s office will remain shuttered through the one-week recess beginning Monday.
The decisions mark the latest changes in the Capitol as staff and lawmakers try to prevent a widespread outbreak on Capitol Hill.
On Wednesday evening, Sen. Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) D.C. office confirmed Capitol Hill’s first coronavirus case. The Washington Democrat has closed her offices in D.C. and Seattle and has urged her other staffers to undergo testing for the disease that originated in Wuhan, China.
The Capitol will halt public tours until the end of March due to fears of the virus outbreak.
“I think, right now, we should stay in session,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said. “We can monitor that day by day.”
“We meet everyday, we have the experts analyzing each day,” he added.