Matt Gaetz made fun of coronavirus scare. Now he’s in self-isolation.

The Panhandle Republican came into contact with a CPAC attendee who tested positive.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., steps off Air Force One upon arrival Monday, March 9, 2020, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., steps off Air Force One upon arrival Monday, March 9, 2020, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) [ ALEX BRANDON | AP ]
Published March 9, 2020|Updated March 9, 2020

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U.S. Rep. Gaetz wore a gas mask on the House floor last week as Congress passed an $8 billion coronavirus relief package, in a stunt widely interpreted as the Panhandle Republican’s latest attempt at trolling liberals and the media.

He may get more use out of that mask. On Monday, Gaetz was put into self-isolation after discovering he came into contact 11 days ago with someone who tested positive for the virus.

Gaetz met the patient just outside Washington, D.C. in Maryland at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual right-wing confab, his office confirmed in a tweet. He is not experiencing symptoms and will remain quarantined for several more days.

Several other CPAC attendees are self-isolating as well, including U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, and four members of the Florida state Legislature.

Earlier Monday, Gaetz flew on Air Force One and rode in President Donald Trump’s limo.

Gaetz’s office is claiming the congressman wore a gas mask on the House floor to demonstrate “his concern" about coronavirus and the potential spread to Congress. He made a similar remark to The Hill shortly after tweeting a photo of him reviewing Congress’ COVID-19 response package.

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“Members of Congress are human Petri dishes — we fly through the dirtiest airports, we touch everyone we meet," he said. "If anyone’s gonna get coronavirus, it’s gonna be the people on that floor so I want to be ready.”

Few have interpreted it that way.

Over the weekend, Florida saw its first two deaths from the rapidly spreading virus. One of them was in Gaetz’s district.

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus guide

Q&A: The latest and all your questions answered.

PROTECT YOURSELF: Household cleaners can kill the virus on most surfaces, including your phone screen.

BE PREPARED: Guidelines for essentials to keep in your home should you have to stay inside.

FACE MASKS: They offer some protection, but studies debate their effectiveness.

WORKPLACE RISK: A list of five things employers could be doing to help curb the spread of the disease.

READER BEWARE: Look out for bad information as false claims are spreading online.

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