Rep. Matt Gaetz said this week that he slept overnight in a Walmart parking lot in an effort to quarantine himself after contact with a coronavirus patient — though he ultimately tested negative for the virus.
The Florida Republican had said Monday that he planned to self-quarantine himself after coming in contact with a person who was diagnosed with coronavirus at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, where a number of GOP lawmakers — including President Donald Trump — were in attendance.
Driving home from Washington, D.C., where Gatez planned to isolate himself out of caution of potentially infecting others with the virus, he said he opted to sleep in a Walmart parking lot instead of a hotel.
“I couldn’t stay in a hotel,” Gaetz, 37, told the Pensacola News Journal on Tuesday. He said: “I slept in a Walmart parking lot somewhere off [Interstate] 85.”
While Gaetz is the only lawmaker to have reportedly holed up in a Walmart parking lot, a number of other politicians self-quarantined themselves after attending CPAC late last month.
Sen. Ted Cruz and Reps. Mark Meadows and Doug Collins all self-quarantined, as worry over the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to grow in the U.S.
Meadows is set to become Trump’s new White House Chief of Staff but wasn’t scheduled to start this week, according to a report from CNN. Trump has said he does not need to be tested for the coronavirus and feels healthy.
The number of infected Americans surpassed 1,000 on Tuesday as 29 people have died as of Wednesday morning, almost all of them in Washington state.
On March 4, less than a week before Gaetz placed himself in self-quarantine, he wore a gas mask on the floor of the House of Representatives while lawmakers voted on an emergency spending bill that would appropriate billions for the fight to stop the spread of the virus.
Gaetz voted in favor of the bill but said he “didn’t feel good about it,” according to CNN, because he believed the bill lacked spending cuts in other areas to offset the money being used to combat coronavirus.
“$8Billion+ in spending without offsets,” Gaetz tweeted then. “The next generation will have to pay for their own pandemics….and ours too…with interest.”
“I wasn’t making light of the situation,” Gaetz insisted on Tuesday, speaking to the News Journal. “I only wish I had worn the gas mask at CPAC.”
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