Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) is just the most recent member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19 this week, following a handful of his House and Senate peers.
Wear a mask. Socially distance. Quarantine if you come in contact with someone positive like I did. We will beat this together, but we all must be responsible. I want to thank all the incredible health care workers who are working around the clock to care for patients.
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) November 20, 2020
Scott has been in quarantine in his Naples home since last Friday after coming into contact with an infected person on a flight back to Florida.
Capitol Hill, where Republican refusal to don a mask sparked a Senate floor fight earlier this week, has become a veritable petri dish for the virus. According to one Politico reporter’s count, Scott is the seventh senator to test positive since March and the ninth to have contracted the disease — Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) tested positive for having antibodies. A full 84 members of Congress have either tested positive, quarantined or come into contact with an infected person, according to a GovTrack running count.
The recent outbreak has even disrupted congressional business.
In a dramatic Tuesday afternoon episode, Democrats were able to keep Judy Shelton’s controversial nomination to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors from advancing to a final vote. With Scott in quarantine and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) having tested positive and also in isolation, Democrats were able to at least temporarily keep Shelton from advancing with an assist from Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted no, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) who was absent. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was rushed back to Washington to cast the deciding vote.
This particular fight may not be over: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took procedural steps that would allow him to bring up Shelton’s nomination again before the end of the lame duck session. But the episode shows how the infection is disrupting Republican senators particularly, some of whom have staked out their political allegiances by tut-tutting at safety precautions like mask-wearing and avoiding crowded indoor spaces.