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Senator Cassidy tests positive for COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) speaks during during the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response, in Washington, U.S., May 12, 2020. Win McNamee/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, has decided to self-quarantine for 14 days and is contacting those with whom he may have had contact, according to a statement released by his office.

“I am strictly following the direction of our medical experts and strongly encourage others to do the same,” the Louisiana Republican, himself a physician, said in the statement.

At least 15 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate - eight Republicans and seven Democrats - have tested positive or are presumed to have had COVID-19 since the novel coronavirus pandemic began earlier this year.

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, is the only other senator to have tested positive for the virus, back in March. Two other senators, Democrats Tim Kaine and Bob Casey, said in May that they had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.

Neither chamber is in session at the moment. In July, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a mask mandate for the House floor after Representative Louie Gohmert, who often refused to wear a mask, tested positive. Elsewhere in the Capitol, mask wearing is encouraged for lawmakers, but not mandated.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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