Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Coronavirus: 'Very nervous' US Congress could close down for weeks amid growing anxiety over outbreak, report says

Senator Ted Cruz says he had ‘brief handshake and conversation’ with infected person

Zoe Tidman
Monday 09 March 2020 11:07 GMT

Congress could be suspended overs fears that coronavirus could move in on Capitol Hill, it has been reported.

Two Republican politicians - Ted Cruz and Paul Gosar - announced on Sunday that they were going into self-quarantine after coming into contact with someone with Covid-19 at a recent political conference.

Neither men said they were experiencing symptoms, but acting to limit the potential spread of the disease.

Members of Congress are turning to leadership to ask whether anything will change in Capitol Hill amid the spread of coronavirus, according to Politico.

One protective measure could include suspending Congress for several weeks, local media said.

“Members are very nervous,” a senior Democratic leadership aide told NBC News. ”There’s a lot of concern that members could bring it home.”

Older politicians and those will underlying conditions are particularly concerned, a source told the TV station.

Mr Cruz, a Republican Senator, said he was staying at home in Texas after having “a brief conversation and a handshake” with a person later diagnosed with coronavirus at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which was attended by numerous top officials.

He said medical professionals advised him that he did not need to self-quarantine after his interaction with the infected attendee, but he has decided to do so “out of an abundance of caution”.

Mr Gosar, a congressman for Arizona, said: “I was with this individual for an extended period of time and we shook hands several times.”

He said neither he nor his staff members had experienced symptoms but that he was self-quarantining as a precaution.

Donald Trump and his vice-president Mike Pence also went to the event, although neither are believed to have come into contact with the individual with Covid-19.

David Popp, spokesman for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, said on Sunday evening that no changes had been made in the chamber’s schedule in the wake of Mr Cruz’s decision to remain in Texas. Mr McConnell’s office was approached for comment on Monday.

The office of Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, has been approached for comment over whether House proceedings could be impacted by coronavirus.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in