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Members of Congress, staff urged to test if they have COVID-19 symptoms; Crapo tests negative

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, at the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 29, in Washington, D.C. (Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP)

Members of Congress are urged to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols to protect themselves and staff against the spread of COVID-19 and get tested for the virus if they develop symptoms.

But tests are not required at set intervals, and the decision is left up to the member or individual staffer, according to guidance from the Office of the Attending Physician posted Friday after President Donald Trump said he and wife Melania had tested positive for the virus.

That’s the advice Northwest members of Congress have been following for months.

Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, the senior member of the Idaho delegation and a member of the Judiciary Committee, met with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett early this week. Barrett had met with Trump the day before, but it’s not clear whether he was contagious at that point.

Both Crapo and Barrett wore masks when they started the meeting in Crapo’s office, his spokeswoman Melanie Lawhorn said Friday. They took them off for pictures, but she wasn’t sure if the masks went back on for their private meeting after the photographers left.

Crapo was tested for COVID-19 Saturday and was negative, Lawhorn said.

Crapo is a two-time survivor of cancer, Lawhorn said, so he takes COVID-19 “a little more seriously” than some colleagues. As chairman of the Banking Committee, he has held virtual meetings for most committee hearings, although he was in the hearing room – and required extra space between participants – for a recent hearing that featured the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

The Trump administration offered to make rapid tests available for members of Congress in May, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turned that down, saying they didn’t want special treatment.

In July, when some members tested positive, they again rejected an offer of special rapid tests and left testing as an individual decision.