Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

Following the announcement Sunday that Sen. Rand Paul had tested positive for COVID-19, the Senate is still continuing with business as mostly usual, minus a few Republicans who are self-quarantining. The New York Times brings us an update illustrating the sense of vague dread hanging over the Senate since other senators and staff found out Rand Paul's decision to keep to his usual routine in the Capitol had enlisted them into this freaky "Masque of the Red Death" cosplay.

Our advice to Rand Paul: Don't accept any invitations to taste an excellent wine in any other senator's private cellar.


The Times notes that, unlike other workplaces, Congress isn't adopting any particular strategies to impose social distancing, apart from hoping it can pass an economic stimulus passage and get the hell out of town. No remote voting for them! (To be fair, it would be hard, so there's no reason to even consider it.)

That's even though Utah Republicans Mitt Romney and Mike Lee are now staying home because they'd had contact with Paul, while two other senators, Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Rick Scott (R-Florida), are self-quarantining in DC because of previous possible contacts with infected people.

In addition, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) announced yesterday that her husband is hospitalized with pneumonia and has tested positive for the virus, and that he "is on oxygen, but not a ventilator." Klobuchar said that she would continue working at the Capitol because she and her husband hadn't been in the same location within the last two weeks at all:

I am outside the 14-day period for getting sick, my doctor has advised me not to get a test. [...] As everyone is aware, there are test shortages for people who need them everywhere and I don't qualify to get one under any standard

As tor Senator Zero, Paul issued a statement that attempted to explain why he hadn't altered his routine at all, claiming that he "felt that it was highly unlikely" he could be positive, because he didn't think he faced any "risk factors" that other members of Congress do. He also said that while he had attended a fundraiser at a Louisville museum where other attendees were later diagnosed with COVID-19, he didn't go into isolation because

I had zero contact or proximity with either of the two individuals who later announced they were positive for COVID-19. The event was a large affair of hundreds of people spread throughout the museum.

He's just not big on that ounce of prevention stuff, we guess, because libertarians barely think other people even exist.

But there's another reason Rand Paul didn't even alter his behavior: Big Government, which shouldn't exist at all to burden us, failed him.

The nature of COVID-19 put me – and us all – in a Catch-22 situation. I didn't fit the criteria for testing or quarantine. I had no symptoms and no specific encounter with a COVID-19 positive person.

Because he's at higher risk due to having a damaged lung, he made the private medical decision to get tested, and that provides him an answer to any critics: If he'd followed what the GOVERNMENT said, you'd all be singing another tune, fools!

For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol. The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined. It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested.

We like the part where he completely avoids the question of why he didn't take personal responsibility to isolate himself when he knew he may have been exposed. Yes, testing should be more widely available. But if you know you were hanging out in a viral swamp, you should have been more goddamn careful, dipshit.

As for the people he works with, we've already noted that other Republicans are plenty pissed at him. The Times points out that Paul didn't even mention his possible exposure to his staff, because why would he?

His aides had never been told Mr. Paul might have been exposed to the virus or had been tested for it, according to a person familiar with the situation, and some began to fear that they could have contracted it and spread it to their friends and family before the office began working remotely, days after Mr. Paul attended the fund-raiser. Mr. Paul attended the fund-raiser on a Saturday and arrived in Washington the next Monday evening. His office closed to work remotely three days later.

Senior officials in Mr. Paul's Washington office told their staffs that none of them were at risk, the person said. But the aides remained livid that they were informed of Mr. Paul's exposure only minutes before their office publicly announced his positive test results.

We aren't sure what the libertarian position on this would be. Obviously, Paul should have been more upfront about his exposure, but what about the aides? Shouldn't they also be criticized for not taking better care that they didn't work for a toxic boss? Or maybe if everyone in the office had been armed, the senator would have been more polite.

[NYT / Project Guttenberg / Sen. Rand Paul / Photo by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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