(FiveNation.com)- The U.S. Senate received some jolting news Monday when it was revealed that South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham tested positive for coronavirus.
The reason for the scare isn’t just that Graham tested positive; it’s that he is fully vaccinated.
In the hours following the news of Graham’s positive test, people were scrambling to try to find out who he might have been in contact with in recent days. There is big concern, as Graham attended an event outdoors on the houseboat of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, with many other senators in attendance.
In the last few months, the Senate has relaxed its social-distancing requirements, as at least 96 of the members of the Senate were fully vaccinated. The Capitol physician recently recommended all members of Congress wear masks in the chamber, but many people didn’t follow that suggestion.
Graham didn’t vote over the weekend, but he was in attendance at the Capitol building Monday. He even spoke with reporters.
Many reporters did notice, though, that Graham was wearing a mask and was in a hurry to leave. When reporters pressed him for details on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which he is helping to forge ahead, Graham only said:
“I’ll talk to y’all later.”
About an hour after that conversation, Graham’s office released a statement that said he tested positive for COVID-19. In the statement, Graham said:
“I started having flu-like symptoms Saturday night and went to the doctor this morning. I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms. I will be quarantining for 10 days.”
Breakthrough infections like this, which happen in people who are fully vaccinated, are rare and typically result in just mild symptoms, health experts say.
The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study that found that less than 1% of all people who are fully vaccinated have experienced a breakthrough infection.
A senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Amesh Adalja, emailed The Hill a comment that said:
“These infections, because they are so mild, illustrate just how efficacious the vaccine is in taming the virus. The virus is not going anywhere, and over time [there are] going to be breakthrough infections. The fact that they are mild due to the vaccines doing exactly what they were designed to do should be the story.”
Even Graham, a staunch conservative, touted the benefits of the vaccine, saying it has helped his symptoms be much less than they could have been. He said:
“I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination, I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now.”
Manchin said that about 12 senators were at the party on his houseboat. Among those confirmed at the event were Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Chris Coons of Delaware and John Thune of South Dakota.
Manchin also said that he tested negative for coronavirus.