Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Doug Collins self-quarantine after interaction with CPAC attendee who tested positive for coronavirus

Key Points
  • Sen. Ted Cruz said he's self-quarantining after finding out he "briefly interacted" with a coronavirus patient. 
  • Cruz said he does not meet the CDC criteria for self-quarantine, but is doing so "out of an abundance of caution."
  • The Republican senator said he had a brief conversation and shook hands at CPAC with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to reporters
Joshua Roberts | Reuters

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.,  and Rep. Doug Collins, R-GA are in self-quarantine after interacting with an attendee infected with coronavirus at the Conservative Political Action Conference in late February. 

Gosar said he, along with three of his senior staff, are officially under self-quarantine after sustained contact at CPAC with the person who has since been hospitalized. He said they are all asymptomatic. 

Collins said in a statement Monday afternoon he was notified by CPAC "that they discovered a photo of myself and the patient who has tested positive for #COVID19."

Cruz said his interaction with an infected person consisted of "a brief conversation and a handshake." Cruz said he does not meet the CDC criteria for a self-quarantine, but he is opting to anyway.

"Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, and because of how frequently I interact with my constituents as a part of my job and to give everyone peace of mind, I have decided to remain at my home in Texas this week, until a full 14 days have passed since the CPAC interaction," he said.

The Republican senator said he has been advised that his odds of having contracted the disease from the infected person were "extremely low," given his lack of symptoms and brevity of their interaction. Those with whom he has interacted in the 10 days since the conference should "not be concerned about potential transmission," he added. 

American Conservative Union said Saturday that a person who attended the annual meeting of political activists tested positive for the coronavirus. The person is now under quarantine in New Jersey. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also attended the event. A White House spokeswoman said on Saturday said there was no indication that either had met with or were in close proximity to the attendee.

The news followed reports that individuals at another high-profile policy conference, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee gathering, had also come down with the illness. Two of those individuals were confirmed to now be in New York and to be asymptomatic at AIPAC. Members of Congress and other AIPAC attendees were reassured this weekend there was "no identifiable risk for anyone exposed to them."

A third individual at the conference also contracted the illness and is now in Los Angeles.  

In an update posted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, the Office of the Attending Physician in Congress said the fact that an infected individual was sick and asymptomatic at CPAC led authorities to come to a different risk "assessment" than for AIPAC. 

"The ill individual at CPAC was able to recall specific names of people he had contact with during the meeting. Several of these individuals, Members of the Congress, were identified and were contacted on the evening of March 7 by Office of Attending Physician," according to the notice. 

The announcement comes as experts are increasingly warning that certain Americans may need to reconsider public activities as the disease continues to spread.

"If we continue to see the community spread go up, I think you need to seriously look at anything that's a large gathering," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.