NOOOOOOOO! I'm sure we're not alone here at SFist among Bay Area residents nervously hoping and praying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who just turned 80 last week — hasn't been exposed to the coronavirus while at work on Capitol Hill. But now it sounds like she might have been on Friday.
67-year-old Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-New York City) tweeted a statement Monday saying that the Capitol's Attending Physician had diagnosed her with a presumed case of COVID-19, and told her to isolate and not seek a test or a doctor's visit at this time. Velazquez said she woke up early Sunday with a fever, body aches, congestion, stomach pain, and the inability to smell her perfume. So far she has had only mild symptoms.
On Friday, Velazquez attended a bill-signing ceremony in the House Chamber for the historic $2.2 trillion stimulus package, and stood just feet away from Speaker Pelosi, as NBC News reports. She was also photographed "chatting in close quarters with Pelosi and Rep. Maxine Waters." To date, five other members of Congress — four House members and one senator (Rand Paul) have tested positive for COVID-19.
I have been diagnosed with presumed coronavirus infection. My symptoms are mild. I am isolating myself at my home and following the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician.— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) March 30, 2020
My full statement is below. pic.twitter.com/9TgPXoy9dN
On Sunday, Speaker Pelosi was appearing on news broadcasts, including CNN's seen below, talking about the stimulus package — called the CARES Act — and saying that "we have to pass another bill that goes to meeting the need more substantially than we already have." She mentioned doing more for family medical leave, covering doctor visits for testing, and giving more in stimulus aid to the District of Columbia, which was classified as a "territory" and therefore received much less of an allocation than many other U.S. cities.
Pelosi has not yet commented on the revelation of Velazquez's presumed diagnosis.
Two weeks ago, as the Bay Area and other parts of the country began announcing shelter-in-place orders, Pelosi said that Congress will be the "last to leave" as the necessary work of stimulus funding bills had to go on.
The #CARESAct was just a down payment in the fight against the coronavirus. We can and will do more to help state & local governments as they fight this public health crisis. #FamiliesFirst #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/nybwe0EtWR— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 29, 2020
Members of Congress are already eschewing handshakes and practicing social distancing, and have been for several weeks.
As the Chronicle reports, East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell has reintroduced a bill he first introduced in 2013, co-sponsored by Rep. Eric Crawford (R-Arkansas), which would allow members of Congress to attend committee hearings via teleconference software — and vote remotely as well.
In a tweet two weeks ago, Swalwell said, "Modern technology belongs in Congress and my resolution would allow members to not only spend more time with their constituents and their families, but would prove useful for a number of situations, including the public health crisis in which we currently find ourselves."