Republican Senator Mitt Romney has tested positive for COVID-19 and will isolate and work remotely, his office has confirmed, adding that the 74-year-old is not showing any symptoms.
His wife Ann, 72, has tested negative, Romney’s office said.
‘Senator Romney tested positive today for COVID-19. He is currently asymptomatic and will be isolating and working remotely for the recommended period of time,’ they said in a statement.
‘Mrs. Romney has tested negative.
‘Both Senator and Mrs. Romney have been fully vaccinated and boosted against the virus.’
Mitt Romney, pictured on December 8, has tested positive for COVID, his office said on Friday
Romney is pictured with his wife Ann, arriving for the funeral of Senator John McCain in September 2018. Romney challenged McCain for the 2008 Republican nomination in the presidential election
In May 2020, doctors directed both Romney and Mike Lee, his fellow Utah senator, to self-quarantine after being around Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Romney, who said he did not experience any symptoms, tested negative for the virus at that time.
Earlier this month, Romney criticized the Biden administration for not doing enough to supply sufficient COVID tests. He said that he himself was frequently tested, and thought everyone should have access to the tests.
‘I think, unfortunately, the administration was wrong in not building testing capacity at a time when we all thought COVID was going away,’ he said in a Senate hearing.
‘I think a lot of individuals, myself included, get tested when there’s no indication that I need to get tested, other than to just want to make sure I’m not sick.
‘There’s huge demand for tests which are in short supply, in part because of that.’
Romney’s infection comes after that of Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, who on Monday tested positive multiple times.
On Tuesday night and on Wednesday night, she defied scientific recommendations to eat out at Manhattan restaurants, despite being infected.
She is unvaccinated.
The Omicron coronavirus variant is driving the daily American death toll higher than during last autumn’s Delta wave, with deaths likely to keep rising for days or even weeks.
The seven-day rolling average for daily new COVID-19 deaths in the US has been climbing since mid-November, reaching 2,267 on Thursday and surpassing a September peak of 2,100 when Delta was the dominant variant.
Now Omicron is estimated to account for nearly all the virus circulating in the nation.
And even though it causes less severe disease for most people, the fact that it is more transmissible means more people are falling ill and dying.
‘Omicron will push us over a million deaths,’ said Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California, Irvine.
‘That will cause a lot of soul searching. There will be a lot of discussion about what we could have done differently, how many of the deaths were preventable.’
Omicron symptoms are often milder, and some infected people show no symptoms, researchers agree.
But like the flu, it can be deadly, especially for people who are older, have other health problems or who are unvaccinated.
‘Importantly, ‘milder’ does not mean ‘mild’,’ said Dr Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during a White House briefing.
At one hospital in Kansas, 50 COVID-19 patients have died this month and more than 200 are being treated.
University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, posted a video from its morgue showing bagged bodies in a refrigeration unit and a worker marking one white body bag with the word ‘COVID’.
‘This is real,’ said Ciara Wright, the hospital’s decedent affairs coordinator.
‘Our concerns are, ‘Are the funeral homes going to come fast enough?’ We do have access to a refrigerated truck. We don’t want to use it if we don’t have to.’
Dr Katie Dennis, a pathologist who does autopsies for the health system, said the morgue has been at or above capacity almost every day in January, ‘which is definitely unusual’.
With more than 882,000 deaths, the United States has the largest COVID-19 toll of any nation.
During the coming week, almost every US state will see a faster increase in deaths, although deaths have peaked in a few states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Maryland, Alaska and Georgia, according to the COVID-19 Forecast Hub.
New hospital admissions have started to fall for all age groups, according to CDC data, and a drop in deaths is expected to follow.
‘In a pre-pandemic world, during some flu seasons, we see 10,000 or 15,000 deaths,’ said Nicholas Reich, who aggregates coronavirus projections for the hub in collaboration with the CDC.
‘We see that in the course of a week sometimes with COVID.’