U.S. Sen. Rick Scott has tested positive for coronavirus and is experiencing “very mild symptoms,” the Florida Republican announced Friday morning.
Scott’s office believes he contracted the virus last Friday night when he came into contact with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19. After learning about the potential exposure, Scott went into quarantine at his Naples home Saturday morning.
Two rapid tests came back negative for COVID-19 but on Tuesday, Scott was administered a more accurate polymerase chain reaction screening, commonly referred to as a PCR test. That test result came back positive Friday morning.
In a statement, Scott, 67, said he was “feeling good” and will continue to work from home until it is safe to return to Washington. The Senate is in recess until Nov. 30.
“I want to remind everyone to be careful and do the right things to protect yourselves and others,” Scott said. “Wear a mask. Social distance. Quarantine if you come in contact with someone positive like I did.”
Scott has missed several key votes while in quarantine, including the successful confirmation of President Donald Trump’s controversial pick to serve in the Tampa division of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, 33-year-old attorney Kathryn Kimball Mizelle.
Without Scott and Iowa’s Sen. Chuck Grassley, who also tested positive for coronavirus this week, Republicans couldn’t muster the support to confirm Trump’s nominee to the federal reserve, Judy Shelton. Her approval failed on a vote of 47-50. Democrats and several Republicans oppose Shelton because of her past support of a return to the gold standard and her writings that questioned the Fed’s political independence.
Throughout the pandemic, Scott has opposed mandatory mask mandates, telling Fox News in June that governments should “stop telling us what to do.” But Scott has been more vocal than other Republicans in encouraging people to follow public health guidance and he is often spotted in public wearing a mask.
On Nov. 12, Scott wore a mask at an indoor campaign rally in Georgia for the states two Republican senators. He removed the mask to speak but then put it back on to take a selfie with Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, neither of whom wore a mask. Scott then briefly shook hands with supporters, and leaned into kiss one on the cheek through his mask.
Scott is the ninth U.S. Senator to test positive for COVID-19 or for antibodies and he is the most notable Florida politician to become afflicted with a virus that is rapidly spreading around the country. The United States has surpassed 250,000 deaths from the coronavirus as it grapples with a third wave of infections. Florida cases are on the rise as well.
Scott encouraged Floridians to “listen to public health experts and follow their guidance” as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising people to stay home this year as outbreaks worsen nationwide.
“We will beat this together, but we all have to be responsible,” Scott said, adding: ”I pray that by next Thanksgiving, COVID-19 will be a thing of the past.”