Rand Paul says amid criticism that more Americans should be able to get tested for coronavirus

Sen. Rand Paul insisted Monday that more Americans should be able to get tested for the novel coronavirus even if they are asymptomatic after he faced criticism for being tested for COVID-19 despite not having symptoms and for continuing on with his daily life while awaiting the results.

In a lengthy statement, Paul, R-Ky., said that he was tested because he and his wife traveled extensively in the weeks prior to the widespread societal shutdown and that he was at higher risk for complications because he had part of his lung removed after he was attacked by his Kentucky neighbor in 2017.

"I believe we need more testing immediately, even among those without symptoms," Paul said. "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. I had, however, traveled extensively in the U.S. and was required to continue doing so to vote in the Senate. That, together with the fact that I have a compromised lung, led me to seek testing. Despite my positive test result, I remain asymptomatic for COVID-19."

Paul said he took the test upon arriving in Washington, D.C., last week and "felt that it was highly unlikely that I was positive since I have had no symptoms of the illness, nor have I had contact with anyone who has either tested positive for the virus or been sick."

Paul addressed his attendance at a fundraiser in Kentucky earlier this month, where two individuals in attendance later announced they had tested positive for the virus, saying he had "zero contact or proximity with either of" them.

On Sunday, Paul became the first senator known to have tested positive for the virus, with his account tweeting that he was "feeling fine and is in quarantine." Paul's chief of staff later said the senator "decided to get tested after attending an event where two individuals subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, even though he wasn't aware of any direct contact with either one of them."

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Meanwhile, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., told colleagues at Sunday's policy meeting that he saw Paul at the Senate gym earlier in the day, his communications director confirmed on Twitter. Paul's account later tweeted that he had visited the gym before he received the results of the test.

Still, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., criticized Paul for going to the Senate gym, tweeting that it was absolutely irresponsible."

"You cannot be near other people while waiting for coronavirus test results," she wrote. "It endangers others & likely increases the spread of the virus."

In his statement on Monday, Paul wrote: "For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a T, 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," he said. "It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested."

Paul did not directly address his visit to the gym, however.

"Perhaps it is too much to ask that we simply have compassion for our fellow Americans who are sick or fearful of becoming so. Thousands of people want testing. Many, like David Newman of The Walking Dead, are sick with flu symptoms and are being denied testing. This makes no sense," the senator wrote, apparently referring to actor Daniel Newman.

"The broader the testing and the less finger-pointing we have, the better," he continued. "America is strong. We are a resilient people, but we’re stronger when we stand together."

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Last week, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson announced that they had tested positive for COVID-19 after contracting it in Australia, where Hanks was filming a movie. 

"We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches," the Oscar-winning actor shared on Instagram. "Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive."

"Well, now. What to do next? The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?"

Idris Elba took to Twitter on Monday morning to announce that he, too, contracted the virus. The actor was at the same conference in Webley as Sophie Trudeau, who also tested positive. 

He shared with his fans:

"This morning I tested positive for Covid 19. I feel ok, I have no symptoms so far but have been isolated since I found out about my possible exposure to the virus. Stay home people and be pragmatic. I will keep you updated on how I’m doing. No panic.

Sophie Gregorie Trudeau, the wife of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, was announced to have tested positive for the virus last week. 

Her symptoms developed after attending a conference in Britain in early March. The prime minister is not showing symptoms and will not be tested, but will remain under quarantine.

Kristofer Hivju, best known for his role as Tormund on "Game of Thrones," took to Instagram on Monday to reveal he was self quarantining with his family in Norway.  

"We are in good health,” he wrote. “I only have mild symptoms of a cold. There are people at higher risk for who this virus might be a devastating diagnosis, so I urge all of you to be extremely careful; wash your hands, keep 1,5 meters distance from others, go in quarantine; just do everything you can to stop the virus from spreading.

Olga Kurylenko, who starred in the James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace,” announced this weekend that she has contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. 

“I’ve actually been ill for almost a week now,” she wrote on Instagram. “Fever and fatigue are my main symptoms. Take care of yourself and do take this seriously!”

Donavan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, both players on the Utah Jazz basketball team, have tested positive for the virus. Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive, which prompted the suspension of the rest of the basketball season. 
Callum Hudson-Odoi, a forward for the Chelsea football team, tested positive for the virus, in addition to Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta. Following the announcement, all professional soccer games in England have been postponed. 
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Paul's diagnosis triggered a discussion about whether senators, many of whom are in older age brackets, should go home immediately or self-quarantine, given their likely contact with Paul, who was on the Senate floor extensively over the past week. It also put the passage of key congressional bills in question moving forward as Democrats and Republicans struggle to reach a deal on the stimulus package.

Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, both Utah Republicans, announced they would be self-quarantining for two weeks after having had "extended" interactions with Paul and would have to miss floor votes.

Paul was the third member of Congress to announce a positive test for the coronavirus, following Reps.Mario Díaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Ben McAdams, D-Utah.

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