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Florida lawmaker 1st known COVID-19 case in Congress

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) speaks before Vice President Mike Pence takes to the podium at Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center after meeting with Venezuelan exiles and community leaders on February 01, 2019 in Doral, Florida.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) speaks before Vice President Mike Pence takes to the podium at Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center after meeting with Venezuelan exiles and community leaders on February 01, 2019 in Doral, Florida. (Getty Images)

MIAMI, Fla. – U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami has become the first known member of Congress to test positive for the new coronavirus, he announced Wednesday.

Diaz-Balart had placed himself under self-quarantine in the nation's capital on Friday, according to a statement. He said he decided not to return to South Florida because his wife has a pre-existing medical condition.

Diaz-Balart said he developed symptoms, including a fever and headache, on Saturday. He learned Wednesday that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement. “However, it is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus."

He added of the global pandemic now reshaping American life: “We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times.”

Diaz-Balart has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2003.

Other members of Congress, including Florida Sen. Rick Scott, have self-quarantined after meeting with a Brazilian official who was part of a delegation visiting South Florida and later tested positive for the virus, but none of the U.S. representatives or senators have reported positive test results.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tested positive for the virus last week. It wasn't immediately known whether Diaz-Balart had met with the Brazilian delegation.

The new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people, but older adults and those with existing health problems can develop severe complications, including pneumonia.

According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

More 320 coronavirus cases have been reported in Florida, with at least seven deaths.

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