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.
“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.
Mike Lee tested positive just 10 days ago and he won't even wear a mask to protect those around him. https://t.co/0R4cpy9umN
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 12, 2020
Mike Lee is still sitting in the Senate chamber, surrounded by men over 70, without a mask. It's hard to put into words how just plain awful and incompetent these people are.
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) October 12, 2020
Quick take on GOP senators in Barrett's hearing today:
Mike Lee–tested positive, in person, spoke without a mask
Ted Cruz — tested negative, videoconference
Thom Tillis — tested positive, videoconference
Josh Hawley–tested negative, in person, spoke without a mask
— Megan Mineiro (@MMineiro_CNS) October 12, 2020
Mike Lee has COVID. Here he is without a mask on the Senate floor. https://t.co/DjpW6UL3VU
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) October 12, 2020
Why is Senator Mike Lee, who tested Covid-positive, speaking without wearing a mask at this hearing with Judge Barrett and her family present and everyone else there exposed?
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) October 12, 2020
I just can’t believe Mike Lee is speaking without a mask 9 days after diagnosis.
It’s enraging. Dianne Feinstein is 87 years old and in that room.
— Elizabeth C. McLaughlin 🩸🦷 (@ECMcLaughlin) October 12, 2020
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.