Senator Mike Lee Tweets Excuses After Criticism For COVID-19 Positive Appearance In Senate Hearings

Senator Mike Lee is being roundly criticized for appearing in the Senate committee hearings to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court Justice, such a short time after his own positive test for COVID-19. He responded Monday morning, tweeting out an excuse note from the Senate physician. He didn’t address his failure to wear a mask during the hearing, and according to his own documentation, he’s still suffering lingering symptoms.

Mike Lee without a mask
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 12: U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) holds a copy of the U.S. Constitution as he speaks during Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice in the Hart Senate Office Building on October 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. With less than a month until the presidential election, President Donald Trump tapped Amy Coney Barrett to be his third Supreme Court nominee in just four years. If confirmed, Barrett would replace the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images)

“Many of you have expressed concern about my health status,” Senator Lee tweeted, appending a link to a longer statement, in which he introduces a letter from the Senate Attending Physician and excuses his decision to rejoin the committee in person.

His press release quotes the final paragraph of the letter in full, giving him permission to exit isolation.

Based upon current CDC guidelines, you have met criteria to end COVID-19 isolation for those with mild to moderate disease. Specifically, it has been greater than 10 days since symptom onset, you have had no fever in absence of fever reducing medication for at least 24 hours, and your other symptoms have improved. The CDC does not recommend repeat SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing if these criteria are met.

The full letter (PDF) notes that he is still suffering some fatigue, that he has had no high fevers and taken no fever-reducing medication in several days, and that he self-reported his other symptoms as resolved on Sunday — the day before the committee hearings began.

Lee is responding to the criticism that has been leveled for him appearing in-person so shortly after his illness — a criticism that has companions in the public concern about Senator Lindsey Graham’s refusal to be tested for COVID-19, and about the Senate’s rush to cram these hearings in before the election.

Senator Lee did not, however, address why he would participate without a mask, even after being cleared to leave isolation. Senators have been asked to wear masks for protection, with Mitch McConnell even criticizing the White House recently for not holding to the same safety standards as the Senate, with masks and social distancing.

Without retesting, it’s impossible to be certain whether Lee is still contagious, and there is, as yet, no consensus that those who have endured the infection are protected from contracting it a second time.

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