As Senate cases rise, Perdue and Loeffler report negative COVID tests

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

WASHINGTON — Both of Georgia’s U.S. senators said rapid COVID-19 testing on Friday showed no signs of the virus.

U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were among the Georgia Republicans who attended President Donald Trump’s rally in metro Atlanta on Sept. 25. The next day, Loeffler also attended the White House event where Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Loeffler, Perdue and his wife, Bonnie, all took rapid tests on Friday that came back negative, their offices said.

The president announced early Friday morning that he and his wife, Melania Trump, had tested positive. Later that evening, Trump checked into Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment.

As of today, three GOP senators have new COVID-19 diagnoses: North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, Utah’s Mike Lee and Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson.

Republican senators typically eat lunch together at least once a week.

It can take several days for a person to develop coronavirus symptoms or test positive after exposure.

Perdue’s office said he had no close contact with the president after the Sept. 25 rally, where he and Loeffler were among the delegation members who greeted Trump upon arrival and then attended the indoor rally.

Photos show that after Trump’s plane landed, his face was uncovered as he spoke briefly to mask-wearing lawmakers, including Loeffler and Perdue.

These same elected officials later sat shoulder-to-shoulder at the rally, held indoors at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, attended the rally and said he took a test Friday as a precaution. It was negative.

U.S. Reps. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, and Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, said they tested negative for COVID-19 prior to attending the event, a condition of having closer access to the president. Both said Friday they had no symptoms and had not been retested.

U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans, was also among the delegation members who greeted Trump’s plane, according to photos from that day. He did not respond to a request for comment about whether he had recently been tested or had any other contact with the president.

Lawmakers said they were following recommendations from House administrators and physicians in deciding whether or not to be tested.

The Senate is scheduled to return to Washington on Monday, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not said if there will be any changes to the calendar or new safety protocols. He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined earlier offers to implement rapid testing among members and staff, saying they didn’t want special treatment unavailable to other Americans.

It has largely been left up to individual lawmakers to decide if they need testing and what action to take if they feel sick or were potentially exposed. Collins and at least one member of his staff quarantined for two weeks in March after interacting at the Conservative Political Action Conference with someone who later said they had COVID-19.

Pelosi implemented a mask mandate in House chambers and meeting rooms in July after a Republican member who had refused to wear one, Texas U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, tested positive for COVID-19. Georgia Rep. Jody Hice, of Monroe, quarantined then because he had spent time around Gohmert.

The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, does not have similar rules in place.