Diaz-Balart First U.S. Congressman to Test Positive for COVID-19
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., on Wednesday became the first member of Congress to announce that he has tested positive for coronavirus, saying he had been stricken with a fever and headache this weekend.
“In an abundance of caution, after votes on Friday, March 13th, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart decided to self-quarantine in Washington, D.C, and not return to South Florida because of his wife Tia’s pre-existing conditions that put her at exceptionally high risk,” his office said in a statement.
“On Saturday evening, Congressman Diaz-Balart developed symptoms, including a fever and a headache. Just a short while ago, he was notified that he has tested positive for COVID-19. While in quarantine Diaz-Balart has been working from his apartment in Washington, D.C.”
The 58-year-old Diaz-Balart added that he’s “feeling much better.”
“However, it is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus,” he said. “We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times.”
Díaz-Balart is a Republican U.S. Representative for Florida’s 25th congressional district. He was elected in 2002, and his current district includes much of southwestern Miami-Dade County, including the city of Hialeah, and much of the northern portion of the Everglades.
Díaz-Balart was born in 1961 in Fort Lauderdale, to Cuban parents — the late Cuban politician Rafael Díaz-Balart, and his wife, Hilda Caballero Brunet.
He is a member of the Díaz-Balart family: His aunt, Mirta Díaz-Balart, was the first wife of Fidel Castro. Her son, and his cousin, was Fidel Ángel “Fidelito” Castro Díaz-Balart. His uncle is the Cuban-Spanish painter, Waldo Díaz-Balart. His brother, Lincoln Díaz-Balart, represented Florida’s 21st District from 1993 to 2011. He has two other brothers, José Díaz-Balart, a journalist, and Rafael Díaz-Balart, a banker.
He studied political science at the University of South Florida before starting his public service career as an aide to then-Miami Mayor Xavier Suárez in 1985. In the same year, he changed his political party affiliation from Democratic to Republican.
The virus has already affected others on Capitol Hill, which remains closed to visitors. Two congressional staffers have been infected by the virus, and some prominent politicians have self-quarantined at both the state and federal levels.
Lawmakers have increasingly practiced social distancing amid the outbreak. Earlier this month, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and a dozen other members of Congress announced they would self-quarantine after they had possible exposure to the virus.
In Iran, the coronavirus has killed several lawmakers and senior political figures.