LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After announcing he tested positive for the coronavirus, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is taking heat from critics, including some fellow Republicans, for continuing to come into contact with colleagues and others after getting tested on March 16.
Several people who were at the Speed Museum Ball in Louisville on March 7 self-quarantined after being notified six days later that at least two people had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Paul, who was at the event, said he got tested on March 16, after notification came out three days earlier. His staff told WAVE 3 News that Paul decided to get the test because of multiple factors, including: He had been traveling and he had been to the Speed Museum event, but also due to his lung condition after having part of his lung removed last year.
The senator is being criticized for not being self-quarantined after he got tested. Rep. John Yarmuth said, he saw Paul at the Speed Ball, but said he did not see Paul around the two people who were confirmed on March 13 as having tested positive for the coronavirus. Yarmuth, Paul and more than 800 people attended the Speed Ball event.
The Department of Public Health told WAVE 3 News that it contacted the two individuals at the Speed Ball who later tested positive for COVID-19 to get the names of those they interacted with. The department then contacted each of the close contacts, and issued directives to self-isolate.
Paul was not identified as a close contact, and was not advised to self-isolate. Yarmuth told WAVE 3 News he can understand why his friend and colleague on the other side of the aisle may not have thought he needed to self-quarantined at first. Yarmuth and other local lawmakers, including including Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Council President David James, did self-quarantine. But he said Paul wasn’t around Christy Brown and at least one other woman who tested positive.
“I am concerned about him and I’m concerned about everybody who has tested positive," Yarmuth said. "He told us he was weakened because of that lung injury, that fight a couple of years ago, since it’s a respiratory-based disease, he’s certainly at risk.”
Just a few days ago, Paul’s father Ron Paul dismissed panic about the coronavirus as a hoax. Yarmuth said that since Sen. Paul is a doctor, he hopefully had a different perspective than his father, but like many other lawmakers, Yarmuth isn’t sure why after getting tested Monday, Paul would continue to work and even use the senate gym and pool. Regardless of the timeline, Louisville doctors in the fight say now is not the time for anyone to go to the gym.
“We know the virus can stay in the air and live on surfaces from hours to days, so it’s best for everyone to stay home,” said Dr. Bethany Hodge, a physician with Norton Healthcare.
Paul called for more compassion from all, and said, in part, in a statement, “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 have never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol. It was my concern for my damaged lung that led me to get tested.”