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Coronavirus Update New York City: Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) tests positive for COVID-19

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) — Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13) announced on Twitter Thursday that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

The New York Democrat, the first Dominican American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, said he is recovering at home and will continue to work remotely.

“I am following guidance from my physician and quarantining at home after having tested positive for COVID-19,” he said. “I have been administered both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine and have continued to be tested regularly, wear my mask and follow the recommendation guidelines. I will continue my duties representing New York’s 13th congressional district remotely until I have received clearance from my doctor. I encourage all residents to follow public health guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Espaillat’s congressional district includes Harlem, East Harlem, West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill and the northwest Bronx.

First elected to Congress in 2016, Espaillat is serving his third term in Congress.

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Espaillat released the following statement later Thursday:

“I appreciate the well wishes and messages I have received immediately following my earlier statement,” “I am feeling well and currently not experiencing any symptoms. I received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020 and received the second dose last week. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its guidance notes, the COVID-19 vaccine is just one part of a larger vigilance that we must all adhere to. I have and will continue to follow the CDC’s guidance to wear a face mask in public settings, adhere to social distancing of at least 6 feet from other persons, and washing my hands regularly with soap and water. In addition, I understand that the vaccine creates an antibody response to lessen the severity of symptoms and illness associated with COVID-19, and I am thankful that I am not experiencing those symptoms. I have followed the guidance and instruction of the Office of the Attending Physician and have been tested regularly, including over the last two days as I have traveled from New York to Washington, DC. It was upon my most recent COVID-19 test yesterday evening that I tested positive. Finally, I would like to take a moment and note that several colleagues in recent days have themselves tested positive for COVID-19. We collectively occupy a range of gender, ages, races and ethnicities. COVID-19 does not discriminate and why it is incumbent on each of us to prioritize social distancing from one another – even if that poses a temporary inconvenience – and wear a face mask. There is no singular panacea and we must adjust our daily habits and practices for our own health and safety as well as the health and safety of those around us and throughout our communities.”

His announcement comes after three other House Democrats tested positive for COVID-19, prompting concern that last week’s insurrection at the Capitol has also turned into a super-spreader event.

It’s not certain where and when lawmakers caught the illness, but the Capitol’s attending physician notified all House lawmakers of possible virus exposure and urged them to be tested.

Dr. Brian Moynihan said members who were in protective isolation last Wednesday “may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”

The three Democratic lawmakers directed their anger toward some House Republicans who were also in the secure room and declined opportunities to wear masks, despite their role in blocking the spread of COVID-19. Video surfaced of multiple Republican lawmakers refusing to wear a mask even when one was offered.

“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said Tuesday.

Schneider’s comments came a few hours after similar remarks from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash..

“Too many Republicans have refused to take this pandemic and virus seriously, and in doing so, they endanger everyone around them,” Jayapal said. “Only hours after President Trump incited a deadly assault on our Capitol, our country, and our democracy, many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution” and simply wear a mask in a crowded room.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey said Monday that she had tested positive for COVID-19.

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All three lawmakers are isolating. Schneider said he was not feeling symptoms, while Watson Coleman said she was experience mild, cold-like symptoms. Jayapal did not elaborate on how she was feeling, but noted that she began to quarantine several days ago out of concern about conditions in the secured room.

Within hours of their announcements, Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Anthony Brown, D-Md., introduced legislation that would impose a $1,000 fine on any member of Congress refusing to wear a mask on Capitol grounds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is not brave to refuse to wear a mask. It is selfish, stupid and shameful behavior that puts lives at risk,” Dingell said.

Additionally, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is now quarantining due to contact with Espaillat at an “outdoor, socially distanced event” last Friday night. Stringer is asymptotic and feeling well. He will quarantine through Sunday

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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