Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Monday explained he was able to quickly obtain a coronavirus test due to previously having a portion of his lung removed and asked for compassion amid criticism that he did not engage in social distancing before learning that he contracted the illness.
“I believe we need more testing immediately, even among those without symptoms. The nature of COVID-19 put me – and us all – in a Catch-22 situation. I didn’t fit the criteria for testing or quarantine. I had no symptoms and no specific encounter with a COVID-19 positive person,” Paul said in a statement. “I had, however, traveled extensively in the U.S. and was required to continue doing so to vote in the Senate. That, together with the fact that I have a compromised lung, led me to seek testing.”
Paul revealed in August that he had undergone surgery to remove a part of his lung damaged during his 2017 assault by a neighbor.
Paul noted that despite the diagnosis, he remains asymptotic of the illness that has infected over 40,000 people and killed 479 in the United States. He then pushed back on criticism of his decision to undergo testing, arguing that had he not sought out a test, he may have still been interacting with others on Capitol Hill, putting them at risk of infection.
“For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol. The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined. It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested,” Paul said. “Perhaps it is too much to ask that we simply have compassion for our fellow Americans who are sick or fearful of becoming so. Thousands of people want testing. Many, like David Newman of The Walking Dead, are sick with flu symptoms and are being denied testing. This makes no sense.
“The broader the testing and the less finger-pointing we have, the better. America is strong. We are a resilient people, but we’re stronger when we stand together,” he concluded.
In a Sunday statement, Paul’s deputy chief of staff, Sergio Gor, announced that the lawmaker had tested positive for the coronavirus. “He is feeling fine and is in quarantine,” Gor said. “He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.”
Paul’s announcement came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pulled out of negotiations on bipartisan rescue package aimed at alleviating the effects of the outbreak, and instead, announcing that she would push forward with her own plan.