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Opinion: Congress needs to hang tough during global coronavirus outbreak

Five Republican members of Congress as of Tuesday said they will self-quarantine after interacting with an individual who tested positive for the coronavirus at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — The list is growing of those in Congress who are now in self-quarantine amid the coronavirus epidemic.

Five Republicans — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona — all came in contact last week with a person at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) who had tested positive for the illness.

Gaetz wore a gas mask onto the House floor last week while lawmakers voted to approve emergency funding to fight the coronavirus.

All five Republicans said they showed no symptoms of coronavirus and that they would remain in self-quarantine at home “out of an abundance of caution.”

Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley of California said she was notified that she had come in contact with someone in Washington, D.C., who had tested positive for coronavirus and that she would close her office in the city.

What’s the better way for members of Congress and their staff to respond to the coronavirus illness?

  1. Continue with business as usual. Medical experts are cautioning people from traveling or meeting in groups as that can spread transmission of the coronavirus. But the life of a lawmaker is just that, traveling and meeting in groups.
  2.  Shut Congress down. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could cancel all votes and send all their members home and ask staffers to work remotely. Even tours of the White House and halls of Congress would be canceled.

Late Tuesday, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler suggested in a closed-door meeting that his colleagues should leave Washington and return home during the outbreak.

Pelosi instantly shut him down, saying, “We are the captains of the ship. We are the last to leave,” she told the meeting.

I don’t wish to expose anyone to danger, but I have to agree with Nancy Pelosi.

Congress needs to hang tough and do its job.

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.