Over the weekend, the West Virginia Democrat hosted a soiree on his house boat that is leading to concerns that the Senate is on the cusp of a COVID-19 Delta variant outbreak after Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tested positive for the virus Monday.
Throughout Monday, Manchin was peppered with questions on whether he accidentally hosted a superspreader event on ‘Almost Heaven.’
Sen. Joe Manchin was spotted with a bandage on his forehead Monday after an accident on his house boat ‘Almost Heaven.’ Over the weekend, the West Virginia senator hosted Sen. Lindsey Graham and other senators at the boat – and then Graham tested positive for COVID-19
Sen. Joe Manchin showed up with a bandage on his forehead Monday, an injury he said he got on his boat, according to Politico Playbook
He referred to the gathering as ‘no celebration’ and said it was with a ‘small group of senators.’
‘We’re just trying to keep people together and do things in a bipartisan way. That’s what we do,’ Manchin told The Huffington Post.
Later, as Manchin walked outside the Capitol, he was asked how many people attended the event. The West Virginia senator replied ‘maybe, not quite,’ when asked if the number of attendees was a dozen.
He confirmed it was all senators on board.
‘If they want you to know who they are, they’ll tell you,’ Manchin said.
‘We were outside, OK? And everybody’s been vaccinated,’ the West Virginia Democrat added.
Sen. Lindsey Graham announced Monday afternoon that he tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms. Graham is captured without a mask walking around the Capitol Building on Friday
He also said it lasted for ‘whatever it takes to eat a hamburger or two.’
Manchin’s office wasn’t commenting on the boat party initially, instead saying, ‘Senate Manchin is fully vaccinated and following the CDC guidelines for those exposed to a COVID positive individual.’
Then Sen. Mark Kelly’s spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the Arizona Democrat had come into contact with Graham at Manchin’s fete.
‘Sen. Kelly came into contact with Sen. Graham during a bipartisan gathering this weekend hosted by Sen. Manchin,’ spokesman Jacob Peters told CNN.
Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat, was also in attendance, CNN said.
Punchbowl News reported that Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat, was there too.
As were Sens. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, and John Thune, a South Dakota Republican.
Thune’s and Coons’ offices said Monday night that the senators tested negative.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that vaccinated individuals who have been in contact with COVID-positive individuals get tested three to five days after exposure.
They’re also advised to wear a mask in public for 14 days following a potential exposure – or until a negative test comes back.
Vaccinated individuals who test positive are supposed to quarantine for 10 days.
Graham said Monday he’s only experiencing mild symptoms after receiving a positive test result that morning.
‘I was just informed by the House physician I have tested positive for COVID-19 even after being vaccinated,’ Graham said in a statement.
Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted Monday afternoon that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing flu-like symptoms
Sen. Lindsey Graham said if he hadn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, ‘My symptoms would be far worse’
He said he started having flu-like symptoms Saturday night and went to the doctor Monday morning.
‘I feel like I have a sinus infection and at present time I have mild symptoms,’ he continued. ‘I will be quarantining for ten days.’
‘I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now. My symptoms would be far worse,’ the Republican added.
Huffington Post reporter Igor Bobic reported seeing Graham in the Capitol Building earlier Monday sporting a mask.
Graham was captured by reporters walking around Capitol Hill Friday without a mask.
The Senate didn’t put back in place mask-wearing as the vaccination rate among lawmakers in the upper chamber is nearly universal.
The vaccination rate in the House of Representatives is lower.
A group of House Republicans protested the House’s resumption of mask-wearing last week, by parading to the Senate side of the Capitol Building.
A number of Senate Democrats began wearing masks again once the guidance changed. Most Senate Republicans, however, remained mask-less.
Graham joins nearly 70 of his Congressional colleagues in testing positive for the coronavirus – but this is the Senate’s first breakthrough COVID infection since most of the upper chamber received the vaccine.
Graham announced in December he had received the vaccine – tweeting out a picture of himself getting his first shot.
‘Thank God for nurses who help people in need and know how to use a needle. Thank God for those who produced these vaccines. If enough of us take it, we will get back to normal lives,’ Graham said at the time.
Graham and other Republican lawmakers who received early doses of the vaccine were criticized for doing so after party members downplayed the dangers of the virus.
Graham mocked mask-wearing as recently as Thursday.
‘To my liberal Democratic friends: If you are looking to “Mask Up,” how about “Mask Up” the border?’ Graham said sharing a Fox News story quoting former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who claimed migrants coming over the southern border were bringing COVID-19 into the country.
During President Donald Trump’s time in office, Graham was one of his top allies on Capitol Hill.
Trump helped politicize mask-wearing and hosted large political rallies for months leading up to the November 3 presidential election, despite vaccines not being available yet.
The former president and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 in early October and Trump was briefly hospitalized at Walter Reed because he had low oxygen levels.
With Graham sidelined, the bipartisan infrastructure deal could once again be in danger of falling through, as every senator’s vote is needed and the votes were expected to take place this week, before August recess.
Graham was one of the 17 Republicans to join Democrats in a key vote last week to get the bipartisan infrastructure deal moving toward passage.
Punchbowl News asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer if Graham’s diagnosis will derail the infrastructure vote timeline.
‘Really hope not,’ Schumer said. ‘I don’t think it will. And we’re trying to let it not.’
Sen. Lindsey Graham shared a photo of himself getting a COVID-19 jab in December 2020