Washington, DC's mayor asked hundreds of church-goers to self-quarantine after a reverend tested positive for coronavirus
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- After a Washington, DC, church leader became the first person in the nation's capital to test positive for COVID-19, hundreds of church-goers have been asked to undergo self-quarantine.
- Other public figures in DC - most notably federal legislators - are increasingly concerned about the mounting public-health crisis. Six lawmakers are now under self-quarantine.
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In the nation's capital, hundreds of church-goers have been asked to undergo self-quarantine after a religious leader tested positive for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, over the weekend.
The Rev. Timothy Cole became the first person in Washington, DC, to contract the virus. He leads Christ Church in Georgetown, an 800-family church and "one of the most well-connected" in the city, according to Robert Devaney, editor of the local newspaper The Georgetowner.
"It's a well-attended and respected church. They are an influencer in Georgetown," Devaney told the Washington Post.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser implored those who attended the church between late February and early March to self-quarantine, the Washington Post reported. On Monday, another individual connected to the church tested positive for COVID-19: 39-year-old Tom Smith, the church's organist. That evening, two additional cases were announced.
There are now five confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in DC, and an additional 23 people have been tested, ABC affiliate WJLA reported.
Amid mounting public concern about COVID-19 in the nation's capital, Bowser urged the public to be extremely cautious.
"We don't see it as a 'nice to.' It's a 'must to,' " Bowser said. "If you've been exposed, you need to self-quarantine, and we recognize that there will be hardships."
She announced that the city has leased a property that could function as a quarantine site and is considering whether to declare a public health emergency.
Lawmakers are increasingly concerned about coronavirus exposure
In DC, anxieties about the virus are not limited to local officials.
Six members of Congress are under self-quarantine as of Tuesday. Five of them previously attended the Conservative Political Action Conference, where they came into contact with an attendee who later contracted the virus.
According to two senior Democratic congressional sources, federal lawmakers are increasingly concerned about their public health - and may have to choose between presiding over the public-health crisis as leaders or undergoing precautionary quarantine to avoid falling ill.
"Members are very nervous," a senior Democratic leadership aide told NBC. "There's a lot of concern that members could bring it home."
According to two sources, House members plan to raise their concerns about COVID-19 at a leadership meeting Monday afternoon with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
A lawmaker told NBC that Congress members should "follow the very advice we're giving the country: Wash our hands, avoid contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms, stay home if we're sick and ensure our staffs are doing the same."
The four Congressional leaders of both parties - Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Pelosi and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) - met with Capitol building staff last week to discuss the virus, especially in light of the building's public visitations that are attended by tourists from around the world.
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