AUBURN, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Saturday that she has not recently been near three Republican colleagues nor anyone else who has tested positive for the coronavirus and has no plans to further limit her activities in Washington or Maine.
The nation’s capital has been roiled in recent days after President Donald Trump announced early Friday that he tested positive for the virus, along with his wife. He was later taken to Walter Reed Medical Center. The president’s doctor said Saturday that Trump’s symptoms have partially subsided.
Several Trump advisers and Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have tested positive since the president did. It stands to complicate the closing month of the election between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Republicans’ plan to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Two senators who tested positive — Lee and Tillis — attended a White House event last weekend at which Trump announced Barrett’s nomination. Johnson did not attend that event and neither did Collins, who attended events in Waterville on Friday and in Auburn on Saturday. Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, accompanied her to Waterville.
Concerns about individual senators have been heightened in part because of regular caucus lunches attended by Republicans, one of which was held late last week. But Collins and Scott said the party has switched to a bigger room and placed only three senators at tables that typically seat up to 10 while spreading out six feet or more apart.
Furthermore, she told reporters on Saturday that she had not had close contact with the affected senators recently, she has not seen Trump in months and was not concerned about potentially having been exposed to the virus as of late.
“I’m also very careful about wearing my mask and that’s not a late development,” she said.
Members of Congress are not subject to any heightened testing protocols after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, rejected an offer from the Trump administration in May to deploy rapid-testing technology to Congress.
The federal government recommends testing when people have symptoms or have had close contact with people who have tested positive. Collins said she has not been regularly tested given those guidelines, but she expected congressional leaders to revisit the issue soon.
The senator is in a difficult reelection race in 2020 against House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport. Both candidates have pared back in-person events during the pandemic relative to normal campaign years. They have been often seen following federal health guidelines by wearing masks and distancing from others while holding many outdoor events.
Their campaign is one of the most-watched Senate races in the U.S. this year with more than $80 million raised or spent in the race by the candidates and outside groups. Collins and Gideon will be on the Nov. 3 ballot with independents Max Linn and Lisa Savage.