Mace & Scott just voted against the relief bill. https://t.co/3gS18gDwLv
— Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) March 10, 2021
Well, *I* survived, so what’s the big deal?…
A year into COVID-19, some members of Congress are still struggling with the physical impact of the virus months after being diagnosed.
But as the pandemic appears to approach an end, survivors have very different takeaways. My latest (no paywall): https://t.co/DeA1Irnpzu
— Mini Racker (@MiniRacker) March 10, 2021
… [A]t least 74 people who served in Congress last year or are currently serving have gotten COVID-19, including 24 Democrats and 50 Republicans. In recent weeks, infections have begun to subside; there has been no news of a positive COVID test among members since January. But the impacts of the virus are expected to linger in Congress, which has seen one member and one member-elect perish from the disease.
Even among members who have contracted the virus, the aftereffects differed, the takeaways didn’t always break down neatly along party lines, and the lessons they looked to impart varied greatly.
Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider received his first COVID vaccine on Jan. 4. Two days later, the attack on the Capitol prevented him from social distancing. When he got home that Friday, he went straight to his basement to protect his wife from infection. At first, he seemed fine. A rapid COVID test came back negative. But as he prepared to return to D.C., he tested positive…
“The most important lesson for me from this pandemic looking to future challenges is we’ve got to find a way to reach across the aisle, reach across state boundaries, and unite as one country to tackle the challenges in front of us,” he said.
Schneider’s outlook is shared widely by Democrats, whether they’ve contracted the virus or not: Trust health authorities and take the recommended precautions. As the virus has become politicized, however, Republicans’ perspectives have grown complicated.
Asked if the GOP was on the same page about achieving unity, Schneider said too many Republicans were putting party ahead of country. But many Republicans, who say the pandemic has also encouraged them to pursue unity, argue it’s the other way around.
“It’s people trying to play politics with the disease that frustrate me,” said Republican Rep. Rodney Davis. He criticized some Democrats for blaming their own illnesses on maskless Republicans who sheltered with them during the attack on the Capitol, noting that none of those Republicans had tested positive around that time.
Davis, a proponent of masks and social distancing, endured his own bout of COVID last summer. Like Schneider, he faced uncertainty about approaching symptoms and worries about infecting his wife. But surviving the disease also eliminated the fear of the unknown. His wife never tested positive, nor did staffers who drove with him before his diagnosis. The experience strengthened his belief in simple precautions, he said. Additionally, it highlighted the drawbacks of seeing health experts’ advice change as they learned more about the virus. While Davis was in quarantine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shifted its recommendations, advising patients to isolate for 10 days after a diagnosis rather than 14.
GOP Rep. Thomas Massie, another COVID survivor, has his own criticisms of CDC guidance. He said he believes public-health experts are well-intentioned but don’t always give the public the full picture. He recommends that Americans read studies for themselves, as he does…
Rep. Nancy Mace… experienced months of chronic fatigue.
“A lot of times my judgment of that previously was like, ‘Is that really real?’ Right? But then to have COVID and then to have debilitating chronic fatigue, it was a horrible experience,” Mace said. “I thought to myself, my God, if I have this for a lifetime, I don’t know what I would do. … It was mentally exhausting. It was emotional, because you’re just not yourself.”…
Republicans who got the virus mostly said their experience gives them a balanced perspective as the pandemic seems to be nearing an end. Rep. Austin Scott said he’s “absolutely” been more careful after getting the virus. Scott was hospitalized with a 103-degree fever the day after Thanksgiving. Five days later, he said, the hospital was full, and he was sent home with blood thinners, oral steroids, antibiotics, and an oxygen machine, which he ended up using for two weeks. He was on and off medications through Christmas. He said it was the sickest he’s ever been.
Still, Scott said he’s eager for Congress to resume more in-person business…