Lee and Tillis were at Barrett’s announcement on Saturday at the White House. Lee met with Barrett on Tuesday, while Tillis met with her on Wednesday. Barrett tested negative for coronavirus Friday but was previously diagnosed with the virus over the summer. Both men spoke with reporters this week and went about regular Senate business.
Multiple other senators who interacted with Lee and Tillis this week announced they tested negative throughout the day Friday.
Lee said he began experiencing symptoms similar to allergies on Thursday, but sought medical advice and was tested for the virus. He found out he was positive on Thursday. Tillis said he is experiencing no symptoms, but his diagnosis will have a significant effect on his race against Democrat Cal Cunningham.
His campaign manager Luke Blanchard said staffers exposed to the senator “will now quarantine and will receive tests in the coming days. Our Charlotte campaign headquarters is now closed and we are halting all in-person campaign events until further notice.” Tillis debated Cunningham on Thursday, and Blanchard said they notified Cunningham of the positive diagnosis.
Cunningham said he will get tested after debating Tillis. He said he wished his opponent “a quick recovery following his positive COVID-19 test, and am thinking of him and his family.”
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is scheduled to begin hearings for Barrett on Oct. 12, with Republicans planning a committee vote on the nomination on Oct. 22. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that the confirmation process was moving “full steam ahead” despite the possible coronavirus outbreak in the White House.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called for a re-evaluation of that plan in light of Lee’s diagnosis: “Health and safety must guide the schedule for all Senate activities, including hearings.”
Lee, however, said he expected to be able to provide support for Barrett in the committee.
“I have spoken with Leader McConnell and Chairman Graham, and assured them I will be back to work in time to join my Judiciary Committee colleagues in advancing the Supreme Court nomination,” Lee said in a statement.