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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, walks to her office on Sept. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, walks to her office on Sept. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, walks to her office on Sept. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP)

Daniel Funke
By Daniel Funke October 2, 2020

Former congressional candidate falsely claims ‘no prominent Democrats’ have contracted COVID-19

If Your Time is short

  • More Republican members of Congress have tested positive for the coronavirus. But several Democratic politicians have, too.

  • Republican lawmakers have been less inclined to wear face masks during meetings and hearings. They have also been more likely to hold in-person rallies and events.

As the world reacted to President Donald Trump’s positive coronavirus test some people noticed a seemingly partisan disparity in who has contracted the virus.

"Does anyone else find it odd that no prominent Democrats have had the virus but the list of Republicans goes on and on?" said DeAnna Lorraine in an Oct. 2 tweet.

Lorraine is a former Republican congressional candidate who ran to represent California's 12th Congressional District this year. She lost in the primary election on March 3.

Lorraine’s tweet has been shared thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook, where some posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

(Screenshot from Twitter)

After Trump tweeted that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus, several people the president came in contact with also got tested. Former Vice President Joe Biden and his runningmate, Sen. Kamala Harris, tested negative.

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But Lorraine’s claim is wrong. 

Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have not contracted the coronavirus. But the same could also be said for Republican leaders. Meanwhile, several Democratic mayors and governors have contracted the virus, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

NPR has been keeping tabs on specific members of Congress who have tested positive for the coronavirus or quarantined after being exposed to it. According to the list, three Republican senators and nine representatives have tested positive or were presumed to have the coronavirus since the pandemic began. That’s more than the Democrats, who have had no senators  and six representatives test positive for the virus.

Polls suggest that Republicans are less likely than Democrats to view the coronavirus as a serious public health threat. Republican representatives have also been less inclined to wear face masks during meetings and hearings, and more likely to hold in-person rallies and events. Both go against what public health authorities have recommended for slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

We reached out to Lorraine for more evidence or a comment. We haven’t heard back.

She's wrong that no prominent Democrats have contracted the coronavirus. We rate her post False.

Our Sources

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Atlanta mayor, family members test positive for COVID-19," July 7, 2020

Ballotpedia, DeAnna Lorraine, accessed Oct. 2, 2020

Bloomberg Government, "Barefaced Republicans Defy Leader Pleas to Don Masks in Capitol," July 8, 2020

Business Insider, "Trump boasted about holding a rally without social distancing and mocked Democrats for observing coronavirus measures," Sept. 9, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Social Distancing," July 15, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Use of Masks to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19," June 28, 2020

CNN, "Few masks, lack of social distancing at final night of RNC," Aug. 28, 2020

CNN, "Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for Covid-19," Sept. 25, 2020

The Guardian, "Republicans told to wear masks in House panel or be barred from speaking," June 29, 2020

NPR, "How The Coronavirus Has Affected Individual Members Of Congress," Oct. 2, 2020

Pew Research Center, "Republicans remain far less likely than Democrats to view COVID-19 as a major threat to public health," July 22, 2020

Tweet from DeAnna Lorraine, Oct. 2, 2020

Tweet from Donald Trump, Oct. 2, 2020

The Washington Post, "Live updates: Trump postponing campaign events after positive test; Biden tests negative for coronavirus," Oct. 2, 2020

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More by Daniel Funke

Former congressional candidate falsely claims ‘no prominent Democrats’ have contracted COVID-19

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