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Sen. Cantwell staff member tests positive for coronavirus

WASHINGTON — An employee in Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office has tested positive for COVID-19 in the first publicly known case of a congressional staffer with the disease.

The Washington senator’s office said Wednesday in a release that the staffer has been in isolation since they started to have symptoms. Her DC office will be closed for the rest of the week for sanitization.

“The individual who tested positive for COVID-19 has had no known contact with the senator or other members of Congress,” a statement from Cantwell’s office reads. “The senator is requesting that testing be done on any other staffers who have been in contact with the individual and show symptoms.”

While the case marks the first publicly known instance of a congressional staffer with the virus, seven other members of Congress have taken steps to isolate themselves amid the outbreak as a precaution.

Five Republican lawmakers — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, along with Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Doug Collins of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Mark Meadows of North Carolina — are self-quarantining after interacting with an individual at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Two Democrats are also taking precautionary measures. Rep. Julia Brownley of California announced on Monday that she and her staff are working remotely after finding out that she recently came into contact with someone who tested positive. On Tuesday, Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia announced that he will self-quarantine after learning that a friend he interacted with recently tested positive.

In a rare Oval Office address Wednesday night, President Donald Trump said he was “marshaling the full power of the federal government” to confront the growing public health crisis, including sharply restricting travel to the United States from more than two dozen European countries.

The address came the same day the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic. There are 118,000 cases globally and more than 4,000 deaths, the agency said, and the virus has found a foothold on every continent except for Antarctica.

CNN Newsource contributed to this story

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