By JOSH FRIEDMAN
Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal tested positive on Tuesday for coronavirus, days after possibly coming into contact with Republican Sen. Mike Lee, who contracted the virus around the same time President Donald Trump did.
Carbajal, who represents all of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and part of Ventura County, said in a statement he took an initial test after discovering he was exposed to an individual who tested positive for the virus. The test came back negative.
Still, Carbajal entered a 14-day quarantine in Washington D.C. in which he was instructed to self-monitor for symptoms.
The congressman began to experience mild symptoms and was instructed by a physician to take another test. The second test came back positive.
POLITICO reports Carbajal interacted indoors in Washington D.C. with Sen. Lee (R-Utah), who announced Friday he tested positive for the virus. Lee’s announcement came just hours after President Trump announced he had contracted the virus.
Carbajal and Lee interacted while the Republican senator was wearing a mask, Carbajal’s office said.
The two lawmakers live in the same building. It is unclear when and where the interaction occurred.
Lee’s office said the senator did not interact with Carbajal in person after testing positive. Lee said he told everyone in his building he tested positive as soon as he got his test result and has not talked with Carbajal since, except by phone, said Conn Carroll, a spokesperson for the senator.
In the aftermath of his positive test, Lee has received criticism for his conduct at a Rose Garden event held to announce the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. Video footage shows Lee hugging attendees without a mask at the event.
Following his positive test, Carbajal said he would continue to monitor his symptoms and carry out his congressional duties virtually.
The vast majority of Carbajal’s staff has been working remotely and are not at risk, the congressman said. Staff members with whom Carbajal interacted have either tested negative or are pursuing a test.
“I hope this serves as a reminder of how easily this virus can spread,” Carbajal said in a statement. “I followed every precaution, including wearing a mask, social distancing and hand-washing and unfortunately was still exposed. It is incumbent on every single one of us to take careful precautions in order to protect the health and safety of those around us.”
Carbajal is currently running for reelection. He faces a challenge from Republican Central Coast radio host and government watchdog Andy Caldwell. In the March primary, Carbajal received 57.8 percent of the vote and Caldwell garnered 38.2 percent.
The incumbent congressman said he looks forward to returning to the Central Coast as soon as he is able.