Two members of Congress from Massachusetts announced separately Wednesday that they have been experiencing symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus and have sought medical care.
Representative Ayanna Pressley, a Boston Democrat, sought treatment for flu-like symptoms, was tested for COVID-19, and is awaiting test results, a spokeswoman said in a brief statement Wednesday night.
Earlier in the day, Representative Seth Moulton said he has been experiencing symptoms and may miss votes in the House in the coming days. Pressley’s spokeswoman did not say whether the congresswoman expected to miss any upcoming votes.
No further information was released about Pressley’s condition.
Moulton, a Salem Democrat said in a press release that he began feeling poorly last Thursday, with a low grade fever and a tightness in his chest “to a degree I’ve never felt before.” He said he also experienced a sore throat, body aches, and “unusual fatigue," though no serious cough. He sought out medical attention and was told that his mild symptoms did not qualify him for a test.
“As the House doctor explained, I am “symptomatic,” but because the symptoms are minor and a test would not change my treatment protocol, my wife and I don’t qualify for tests," Moulton said. “As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, I will follow my doctors’ direction and continue to stay home and self-quarantine until I hit seven days after my symptoms started to improve and I do not have a fever for 72 hours.”
Moulton said he plans to continue self-quarantining until at least Saturday. He said his baby daughter, Emmy, fortunately was not experiencing any symptoms.
In an interview with the Globe, Moulton said he and his wife are feeling better and he did not know where he might have potentially picked up the virus.
“I’ve been in a lot of places with people who have it,” he said, noting that he fell ill despite following social distancing guidelines.
Moulton emphasized that the lack of testing capacity in the United States was an ongoing problem, and though he didn’t receive a test, he said believes anyone who is symptomatic should be able to get one.
“Because the symptoms were mild that we’re experiencing, their prescription would be just to stay at home,” Moulton told the Globe. “And so that’s not going to change whether it’s coronavirus or something else, and therefore we shouldn’t take a test from someone who might need it more. But the point I’d like to make is that we absolutely should be tested if we’re symptomatic.”
Several US lawmakers have been diagnosed with coronavirus in recent weeks, including Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who did not experience symptoms but was able to get tested.
“There are people who are testing positive for the coronavirus who are asymptomatic, like Senator Rand Paul. We are actually symptomatic and yet we can’t get tested,” he said.
Moulton, who won’t be present to vote on a possible aid deal if it reaches the House as expected this week, also expressed concern over the possible spread of coronavirus in Congress. Some lawmakers are working remotely, but face-to-face meetings and votes are still happening as lawmakers take up legislation to try and blunt the economic damage of the pandemic.
“It’s a major concern and it’s something I’ve been raising for a month now,” Moulton said, noting he has not had personal contact with his team, except for two people, in more than two weeks after implementing a new social distancing policy.
“But obviously with what you see going on in the Senate and the administration today, that’s not happening across government," he said. “And so the potential for this outbreak to spread further and rapidly among senior leaders in our government is very real.”
Moulton said he would be open to exploring the idea of measures like remote voting but worried it could add to polarization in an already deadlocked Congress.
“I think there are some legitimate concerns with the slippery slope of remote voting because the only thing that keeps us operating in a modestly bipartisan matter to get things done for the American people is the fact that everyone in Congress has to come together in Washington," he said.