Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who tested positive for coronavirus 10 days ago, appeared in person at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to confirm Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Monday after he said Congress’s attending physician cleared him to appear.
“I’ll be participating in person. I’ve gotten the sign-off from the office of the attending physician. I’ve gone through the appropriate number of days, and I’ve been keeping my temperature under control, and I’m no longer contagious,” he told Hugh Hewitt earlier that morning.
Lee said his wife has tested negative and no one else in the family has any symptoms, and that senators participating in the hearing would be seated six feet apart.
After his opening statement, Lee posted the letter he received from the attending physician, which said:
Based upon current CDC guidelines, you have met criteria to end COVID-19 isolation for those with mild to moderate disease. Specifically, it has been greater than 10 days since symptom onset, you have had no fever in absence of fever reducing medication for at least 24 hours, and your other symptoms have improved. The CDC does not recommend repeat SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing if these criteria are met.
Despite Lee being cleared, a number of journalists and pundits criticized him for appearing in person and taking his mask off when speaking.
Why isn't Sen. Mike Lee, who tested positive for COVID, wearing a mask during his opening statement?
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 12, 2020
Members of Congress are not required to wear a mask, and it has been common practice for members to take off their mask while speaking.
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway noted that Lee has met the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines.
Lots of journalists expressing alarm that @SenMikeLee is around others after he tested positive for Coronavirus. FWIW, CDC says he's fine to be around others. (link and screenshot) https://t.co/dlxb5Y9i0f pic.twitter.com/MtkjyzkNU2
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 12, 2020
Hewitt commented on Twitter that people were “condemning” Lee for appearing in person, versus wishing him well on his recovery.
“Surprised/not surprised that some on @Twitter are condemning @SenMikeLee for attending the @senjudiciary hearing today. I thought perhaps many would join me in wishing him well on his recovery from the virus, which he described as feeling like a 98-year old man in a boxing match,” he tweeted.
Surprised/not surprised that some on @Twitter are condemning @SenMikeLee for attending the @senjudiciary hearing today. I thought perhaps many would join me in wishing him well on his recovery from the virus, which he described as feeling like a 98-year old man in a boxing match.
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) October 12, 2020
Democrats have argued that the hearing on Supreme Court Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett was unsafe to convene, with Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) choosing to attend the hearing virtually.
However, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) appeared in person, as did No. 2 Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI).