U.S. Ted Cruz was back in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, after spending nearly a week in self-quarantine at his Houston home. Though he did not get sick, the Texas Republican’s voluntary isolation underscored the gravity of the coronavirus outbreak that Congress and the White House are now seeking expansive measures to address.
Cruz announced his initial quarantine last week after learning he and several others were potentially exposed to the virus during a political conference in late February. He extended his isolation time, set to end Thursday, when a Spanish political official with whom he met and shook hands in early March tested positive for the virus.
“I've been working from home and able to be very productive at home,” he said during a phone interview Tuesday, his last day of quarantine. “Between the telephone and internet and email, I am able to get quite a bit done.”
Despite being homebound, Cruz had been vocal about taking action, speaking to local media outlets, recording podcasts and outlining steps federal officials should take to better address the public health crisis.
The most crucial step, he said, is making testing for the virus more accurate and available.
“Clearly, there was a problem with the rollout of the testing kits,” Cruz said of the federal government’s initial efforts to provide for local testing. “And, I think the problem there was that the [Trump] administration tried to keep the response within the federal government and within the CDC in particular. Unfortunately, one of the labs where they were developing the kits had an issue with contamination and the initial kits were faulty, and that slowed down the rollout substantially.”
Cruz is also pushing federal officials to get more medical supplies to first-responders, expand hospital capacities and fast-track clinical testing for a vaccine and antiviral drugs.
Reportedly healthy and symptom-free, the junior senator from Texas said he’s eager to resume working more directly with his staff and fellow senators.
“Obviously, as the Senate debates measures to deal with the public health crisis, it is helpful to be in D.C. and be able to engage directly with your colleagues” he said.