Ron Johnson becomes 3rd U.S senator to recently test positive for coronavirus

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Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said Saturday that he tested positive for the coronavirus, at least the third U.S. senator to do so this week since President Trump announced his own positive test.

Johnson’s office announced the diagnosis in a statement Saturday morning, following Utah Sen. Mike Lee and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis’ announcement of being positive to COVID-19, adding to tension in Washington, D.C., since Trump’s announcement Friday.

Johnson, a second-term Republican, reported being exposed to someone with COVID-19 last month — later identified as his chief of staff — and quarantined for 14 days without developing symptoms. He said he tested negative twice during that time.

Johnson returned to Washington, D.C, on Tuesday and said he was exposed soon after that to someone else who tested positive. He said he was tested Friday after learning of the exposure and tested positive.

Johnson told The Associated Press by phone Saturday that he returned from Washington on Thursday and was quarantining at home in Oshkosh. He said he felt fine, with no symptoms. He said he decided to get a test after finding out that Lee caught the disease and was shocked his test came back positive.

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Asked whether his exposure may have come from other senators, Johnson said, “Possibly. … Nobody knows. I was around all my colleagues.”

Johnson’s spokesman, Ben Voelkel, said the senator was still in Wisconsin during quarantine and did not attend last Saturday’s Rose Garden event in which Trump announced Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee. Several people who attended the event, including Lee, Tillis and former White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway, announced positive tests this week.

READ MORE: Few coronavirus measures at White House may have led to Trump’s diagnosis: experts

Johnson said he learned of his positive result while driving home after speaking Friday evening at a Republican dinner in suburban Milwaukee. He said he wore a mask at the event except for when he delivered his speech. He also said he didn’t shake hands or pose for photographs and left immediately afterward.

“I let people know why,” he said. “I’m not taking photographs, I’m not socializing, I’m not a prima donna, I need to stay healthy so I can provide a vote to confirm Amy Barrett.”

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© 2020 The Canadian Press

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