Loeffler self-isolating after mixed coronavirus test results


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ATLANTA — U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s campaign said Saturday she is self-isolating after she tested positive for the coronavirus and later received an inconclusive result.

It’s not yet known how the diagnosis will affect her campaign schedule ahead of a nationally-watched Jan. 5 runoff, one of two Georgia races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Nor is it immediately clear whether Vice President Mike Pence or U.S. Sen. David Perdue, whom she campaigned with on Friday, would have to quarantine. The three appeared together, without wearing masks, at two outdoor rallies in north Georgia.

Loeffler’s spokesman Stephen Lawson said she took two COVID tests on Friday morning. He said her rapid test results were negative and that she was cleared to attend a pair of events with Pence. She was informed later Friday that a PCR test came back positive, Lawson said, and the results of another PCR test Saturday morning were inconclusive.

“Senator Loeffler followed CDC guidelines by notifying those with whom she had sustained direct contact while she awaits further test results,” said Lawson.

“She has no symptoms and she will continue to follow CDC guidelines by quarantining until retesting is conclusive and an update will be provided at that time.”

Loeffler, a Republican who faces Democrat Raphael Warnock in the January race, has kept a busy schedule of rallies since her second-place finish in the Nov. 3 special election. She’s held several recent joint events with Perdue, who is defending his seat in the other runoff, and campaigned Thursday with Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

Although Loeffler regularly wears masks, she was not wearing one during her stops with Pence on Friday.

Her campaign events often drawn large crowds where few use face coverings and socially distancing is impossible. At Loeffler’s two events on Friday with Pence, for instance, hundreds gathered in Canton and Gainesville in cramped confines at outdoor venues.

The pandemic is playing a significant role in the high-stakes campaign, which will decide how aggressively President-elect Joe Biden can pursue his legislative agenda.

Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who is competing against Perdue, have consistently accused their Republican rivals of downplaying the pandemic. The two incumbents have focused on their support for President Donald Trump and economic stimulus efforts they backed as the outbreak worsened.

Loeffler’s spokesman said she has notified Cotton, Pence, Perdue and others she was in close contact with about her test results. It’s not yet clear whether they will be self-quarantining as well.

It’s not the first time the pandemic has upended campaigning in Georgia’s Senate races. Ossoff self-isolated after his wife Alisha, a physician, contracted the disease. And Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed Loeffler to the seat, canceled an appearance at a preelection rally with the senator and went into self-quarantine after he learned he was exposed to the disease.

In a social media post late Saturday, Warnock said he prayed Loeffler’s “test results come back negative and that she is back on the campaign trail soon.”


©2020 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

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