Sen. Mike Lee appears in person at Barrett hearing after Covid diagnosis
Senator Mike Lee, who tested positive for Covid-19 less than two weeks ago, appeared in person on Monday on the first day of the Supreme Court confirmatory hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
When the Utah Republican arrived at the hearing room Monday morning, he was wearing a blue surgical mask and could see his fist poking his GOP colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also exchanged brief words with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Lee took off his mask when it was his turn to speak to the committee with an opening speech, but put it back on immediately when he finished speaking.
Lee was one of two GOP Senators, along with Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who contracted the coronavirus in the days after attending a crowded rose garden ceremony at the September 26th White House that marked President Donald Trump's appointment Ruth Bader Ginsburg announced von Barrett as the successor to the late Justice.
A maskless Lee hugged other attendees in the ceremony - which was accompanied by indoor receptions and has since been hosted by Dr. Antony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, has been dubbed a "superspreader event".
Lee said he noticed allergic symptoms on October 1 and was subsequently tested for the coronavirus. He received his positive results later that day and said he would be quarantined for 10 days.
Other senators who came into contact with Lee, including Texas Republican Ted Cruz, appeared at the hearing from a remote location Monday after being quarantined for 14 days under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had asked.
Tillis, who is also on the Justice Committee, also took part virtually. When he announced his diagnosis on October 2, he reported that there were no symptoms.
Shortly after the hearing began Monday, Lee told a local Utah radio station that he was feeling "great" and had been "released" by the Capitol's attending physician to attend early that morning, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. "Good as new, ready to go and looking forward to today's hearing," he said.
In a letter from the Congress doctor released Monday by the Senator's office, Dr. Brian Monahan that Lee "Met criteria to end COVID-19 isolation for those with mild to moderate illness".
"Specifically, it has been more than 10 days since you started your symptoms, you have not had a fever for at least 24 hours without any antipyretic drugs, and your other symptoms have improved," wrote Monahan. "The CDC does not recommend repeating SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests if these criteria are met."
The CDC recommends people who have tested positive for Covid-19 for at least 10 days, and possibly longer if they still have symptoms.
Ahead of Monday's hearing, Democrats urged Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Justice Department, to require coronavirus tests for senators. But the Republican from South Carolina denied these requests, citing instructions from the congressional doctor.
Last week, Graham refused to take a coronavirus test ahead of a debate with Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison, leading to the forum's cancellation.
Andrew Desiderio contributed to this report.
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