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Congressman Moulton and wife self-quarantine after showing COVID-19 symptoms

By Gayla Cawley | March 26, 2020

SALEM — U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) said he has exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus and is under a self-quarantine. 

Although Moulton does not qualify for testing and will therefore not learn whether he has contracted the virus, he said he decided to publicly share his condition because it will cause him to miss a key House vote on a $2 trillion virus rescue bill that was approved by the U.S. Senate early Wednesday morning. 

Moulton, 41, said his wife, Liz, has experienced similar symptoms — he’s had a low grade fever, tightness in his chest, sore throat, body aches and fatigue — but their 18-month-old daughter, Emmy, remains asymptomatic. 

He started to feel unwell last Thursday, but in retrospect, he said some of his symptoms might have started earlier. Moulton said he’s been steadily improving, but he and his wife are under doctor’s orders to self-isolate until Saturday. 

“Both my wife and I are feeling better,” said Moulton. “We’re lucky so far. It’s a minor case of COVID-19 or frankly whatever disease it is we have because we haven’t been able to test. The symptoms are consistent with the coronavirus.”

Although Moulton said he was urged by a friend and ER doctor to get tested for the virus immediately, he was informed by the House of Representatives’ doctor that since his symptoms are minor and a test would not change his treatment protocol, he and his wife don’t qualify for testing. 

A lack of available testing and restrictions on who can be tested has been a key issue in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, something that Moulton says is wrong. People who are asymptomatic are testing positive for the virus, he said, noting that anyone who is exhibiting symptoms should be able to get a test. 

“There aren’t enough tests,” said Moulton. “This is a month after I wrote the Vice President and I said we have to get on top of the testing. On a personal level, I’d much rather know. I’d rather know as a family.” 

Moulton said the state is doing a good job of “flattening the curve,” but was critical of how the outbreak was being handled by the federal government, which he said has been way behind on its response from the beginning. 

“The lack of leadership from the president and the administration has been very concerning,” said Moulton. “We need an all hands on deck response. I think the entire country should be shut down for three weeks to stop transmission in its tracks.” 

In addition, Moulton called for President Donald Trump to forcefully use the Defense Production Act, which he has been reluctant to do, in order to provide personal protection equipment (PPE), such as face masks, to nurses and doctors battling the epidemic. 

Implementing those measures, in his opinion, would be helpful in fighting the disease and kickstarting the economy, but the federal administration is “dragging its feet and making excuses” for not doing so, Moulton said. 

Since a $2 trillion aid bill that passed the U.S. Senate Wednesday morning is expected to quickly come to a House vote, Moulton said his self-isolation order will prevent him from participating. 

However, if he was able to attend the upcoming session, he said he would vote for the unprecedented emergency legislation, which is being cited as the largest economic rescue package in history, because it’s a “huge improvement” over the original Senate Republican draft. 

Moulton said the compromise bill that’s been approved by the Senate meets his priorities, which are to help nurses and doctors on the front lines, help workers and families, and support small businesses. Although the bill includes large corporate bailouts, he favors the governmental oversight that’s been approved as part of the package. 

The economic package would give direct payments to most Americans, expand unemployment benefits and provide a $367 billion program for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home.
However, he cautioned that more than $2 trillion will be needed to help the economy recover from the continued impact of the coronavirus. 

Relatively young at 41, Moulton said he’s hoping his experience serves as a cautionary tale for people on the importance of taking the coronavirus seriously. Although the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions are most at-risk of developing severe illness from the virus, it has impacted all age groups. 

“I want to emphasize that especially if you’re younger and having symptoms but they’re not severe, you still need to take this seriously and I hope that’s the message everybody gets from our experience,” he said. 

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.