Virginia Republican congressman tests positive for coronavirus

Republican Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia has tested positive for the coronavirus after developing symptoms, his office announced Tuesday.

Griffith does not have significant symptoms and will continue to self-isolate, the office said.

In recent weeks, Griffith has been active on Capitol Hill, attending hearings and press conferences relating to the coronavirus pandemic. In several of those appearances, Griffith wore a mask — a political flash point as some Americans argue the requirement infringes upon their civil liberties.

But the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges everyone to wear a “cloth face cover when they have to go out in public,” noting that masks are critical in areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain since the coronavirus can spread between asymptomatic people and through respiratory droplets in the air.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially requested late last month that congressional committee chairs require face masks at proceedings and bar lawmakers who fail to comply.

Griffith joins a list of members of Congress in both the House and the Senate and in both parties who have tested positive for the virus.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, also of Virginia, announced in May that he and his wife tested positive for coronavirus antibodies and in late March, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky tested positive but has since recovered.

In addition to Kaine and Paul, at least four House members have announced they tested positive: Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, and Democratic Reps. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina and Ben McAdams of Utah. Democratic Rep. Nydia Velázquez of New York has said she had “been diagnosed with presumed coronavirus infection.”

Griffith has been in Congress since 2010, when he captured the seat from a veteran Democrat during the GOP landslide of 2010.

More than 13 million people globally have been infected with Covid-19 and more than half a million people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. Nearly one out of every 100 Americans has tested positive for Covid-19.