Senator Lindsey Graham Says He Has a Breakthrough Covid Infection
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina announced on Monday that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and that his symptoms were mild, which he attributed to receiving the vaccine.
“I am very happy to have been vaccinated because without the vaccination I am sure I would not feel as well as I do now,” Graham, a Republican, wrote on Twitter. “My symptoms would be much worse.”
Mr Graham said he would go into quarantine for 10 days.
With the Delta variant continuing to spread aggressively in parts of the country, infections in those vaccinated have become more common, although they are still rare among the vaccinated population.
Experts say vaccines currently in use in the United States offer strong protection against serious illness and death, even when infected with the Delta variant. More than 97% of people who have been hospitalized recently for Covid-19 have not been vaccinated.
Breakthrough cases were reported last week both on Capitol Hill and in the White House. At least six Texas Democrats, a White House aide and an aide to President Nancy Pelosi said they tested positive despite having been vaccinated.
A number of Republicans in Congress, especially in the House, have not been shot and have resisted wearing masks and other mitigation measures. But Mr Graham urged his supporters to get vaccinated and spoke out against misinformation related to the virus.
Mr. Graham’s announcement raised concerns that other colleagues in the Senate may have been exposed during recent contacts with Mr. Graham.
Graham’s office confirmed he attended a rally of senators on Saturday aboard “Almost Heaven,” a barge owned by West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III. A photograph released over the weekend showed senators socializing on the boat as it cruised the waters around Washington.
“There was no celebration,” Manchin, who tested negative Monday, told reporters at the rally. “We were just trying to keep people together. We do everything in a bipartisan way.
At least half a dozen other senators confirmed they were on board, including Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second House Republican.
Mr Thune spokesman Ryan Wrasse said his boss was vaccinated and tested negative on Monday afternoon. Other senators were awaiting the results but showed up to vote in the Senate.
News of Mr. Graham’s positive test – and the possibility that more of his colleagues were exposed – has thrown a new element of unpredictability into what was already to be a momentous week on Capitol Hill as the Senate prepares to vote on a massive bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Mr. Graham has been a supporter of the bill, and if he is absent long enough, his illness could cost a Republican vote on the final pass. But if others fall ill or are forced to self-quarantine, party leaders may have to cancel meetings, delay votes, or adjourn the Senate entirely, as they did in similar episodes in 2020.
Already on Monday, Democrats made an in-person leadership meeting virtual instead. But Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat and majority leader, told reporters he believes the infrastructure debate will proceed as planned.
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