Rand Paul Issues Statement

The COVID-19 infected Kentucky Senator defends his recent actions.

Having called Senator Rand Paul “a moron” for his careless actions in the hours before testing positively for the novel coronavirus, I thought it fair to point to his statement defending his actions:

Given that my wife and I had traveled extensively during the weeks prior to COVID-19 social distancing practices, and that I am at a higher risk for serious complications from the virus due to having part of my lung removed seven months ago, I took a COVID-19 test when I arrived in D.C. last Monday. I felt that it was highly unlikely that I was positive since I have had no symptoms of the illness, nor have I had contact with anyone who has either tested positive for the virus or been sick.

Since nearly every member of the U.S. Senate travels by plane across the country multiple times per week and attends lots of large gatherings, I believed my risk factor for exposure to the virus to be similar to that of my colleagues, especially since multiple congressional staffers on the Hill had already tested positive weeks ago.


I believe we need more testing immediately, even among those without symptoms. The nature of COVID-19 put me – and us all – in a Catch-22 situation. I didn’t fit the criteria for testing or quarantine. I had no symptoms and no specific encounter with a COVID-19 positive person. I had, however, traveled extensively in the U.S. and was required to continue doing so to vote in the Senate. That, together with the fact that I have a compromised lung, led me to seek testing. Despite my positive test result, I remain asymptomatic for COVID-19.

For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol. The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined. It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested.

To a certain point, that’s fair. He decided to get tested because his combination of foreign travel and a deteriorated lung capacity put him at high risk but he was asymptomatic and therefore thought it highly unlikely he was sick.

That said, “walking around the halls of the Capitol”—let alone using the Senate gym and swimming pool—are not anything like following current health guidelines “to a tee.” Granted that the Senate is in session and arguably necessarily so, Paul likely had no real choice but go to work. But he was hardly practicing social distancing or taking the precautions that all of us have been advised to take.

Still, let’s downgrade his actions from “moron” to merely “careless.”

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. inhumans99 says:

    James, you are too kind…KY is the state that had morons get the virus because someone held a Coronavirus party. Between Rand Paul’s actions and the virus party it is not a good look for KY and that is putting it mildly. A horrible thing to admit out loud but KY having to grapple with the virus and being a deep Red State that has been in the tank for the GOP for decades might get folks from other hardcore Red states to start taking things seriously, so yeah…I am saying KY’s ill’s may have some positive side effects.

    It makes me feel a bit icky to write that but we are living in strange times.

  2. Pylon says:

    If news reports are correct, he’s not telling the truth about his reasons for being tested. I read that he was at a conference where a few people had subsequently been tested positive and that led to his own test.

    And saying that because the rules hadn’t been followed to get him a test (which is an admission of privilege I guess) he was justified in not following isolation rules to a tee is not logical at all. Two wrongs and all that.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    Rand Paul’s statement finds Rand Paul guiltless. Well, I guess that settles that.

    I imagine medical privacy precludes checking whether his statement about being asymptomatic comports with what he said when requesting the test.

  4. KM says:

    I cannot fault him for wanted to get tested. We should be testing *everyone* even remotely suspected of infection in a sane world – that’s how you get early identification and effective isolation as opposed to locking the whole country down. In that, he had some brains. I can’t even get too mad at his affulenza on display with getting a test despite technically not qualifying and getting his prioritized. This is America – money and power talk and that’s not gonna change under this Administration.

    What I do fault him for is his careless behavior, before and after, that has made him a walking disease carrier. He cites his pre-existing condition as a reason for concern yet did nothing to mitigate his risk before. He actively went out in defiance of common sense and medical recommendations; recommendations specifically designed to prevent this from happening and protect him and others. He then suspected he might be infected and was concerned enough to get himself tested….. but still went about his day, shedding disease wherever he went. See, he doesn’t care if anyone else gets infected; he just wanted to know if he should be making arrangements to get precious space at a hospital just in case. It makes ZERO sense to get a test (meaning you suspect you have an illness) and not act like you might have the illness (take proper precautions). It’s especially heinous since he knew his test would be expedited – yay for power! – so the wait would be hours, not a week plus. He couldn’t behave for a DAY, James. A single day to go “hmmm, maybe that test will be positive. I, as a physician, should practice Do No Harm and not go chill in the pool like I want to”

    S0 he’s still a dangerous moron, just for slightly different reasons then he mentions. He’s entitled to a test, just like an American who suspects they have COVID-19 should be. That’s the only thing he’s even remotely correct on.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined. It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested.

    Speaking as someone with COPD, pre-diabetic, high blood pressure, and allergic to anti-inflammatories, I detect the stench of privilege.

    Like@inhumans99: I think you are being too kind James. If he thought he needed a test he should have thought to stay out of the gym and exercise in the privacy of his own home and practice social distancing at all other times. This isn’t rocket science. I started 2 1/2 – 3 weeks ago.

    Besides, isn’t he a supposed (self licensed) doctor? It would appear he wasted his money on that expensive medical education.

  6. Jen says:

    As he is at higher risk because of the lung issue, I still find his activity questionable. At very least it demonstrates a lack of judgment and taking the issue seriously.

  7. Stormy Dragon says:

    nor have I had contact with anyone who has either tested positive for the virus or been sick.

    This is a baldface lie: he was at a fundraiser in Louisville on March 7th where several attendees tested positive. Other politicians at the event had been self quarantining as early as March 16:

    Mayor Greg Fischer and Congressman John Yarmuth test negative for coronavirus

    Paul KNEW he was at risk of infection when he got the test, but chose to continue a normal schedule anyways.

  8. SKI says:


    Besides, isn’t he a supposed (self licensed) doctor?

    IIRC, he is a licensed doctor by the State of Kentucky but he refused to renew his board certification in ophthalmology. He, and a couple hundred other ophthalmologists, had set up a rival certifying entity – which has since gone defunct – but that was never recognized by the Board of Medicine in KY. While most hospitals and insurance companies require board certification (or at least board eligibility for newer doctors), you don’t need it to be licensed as a physician.

    It would appear he wasted his money on that expensive medical education.

    You would be horrified by the bad judgement of so many physicians…

  9. Kathy says:

    Maybe he got it after wiping sweat off his face, after having handled gym equipment used previously by an infected person.

    No way to tell

  10. Gustopher says:

    I had, however, traveled extensively in the U.S. and was required to continue doing so to vote in the Senate.

    He could be staying in his Washington, DC home, and be not flying around quite so much. Yes, social distancing is inconvenient.

    Plus, he is lying about exposure, as others have pointed out.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @SKI: Per WIKI, he set up the National Board of Ophthalmology to get out of an American B of O requirement for recertification. They decided to require recertification every ten years, but for legal reasons grandfathered existing cert holders. Little Randy had the predictable conservative snowflake reaction to someone getting something he didn’t and set up his own board. They certified like 50 ophthalmologists before they went out of business. Perhaps because Little Randy discovered KY doesn’t require board cert for ophthalmologists.

  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This is only one in a series of actions that firmly establish Rand Paul as a moron.

  13. Kit says:

    The nature of COVID-19 put me – and us all – in a Catch-22 situation

    I don’t think that means what he thinks it means.

    As much as I dislike the man, I’m fine with his actions. Yeah, he should have known better, if only because, as one of the world’s most powerful men, he should be surrounding himself with serious competent people. But I guess we suspected that was not the case. He didn’t know. We all find ourselves there on occasion.

    But this statement of his was his chance to explain how he failed to take the virus seriously, was lucky to have been tested, and came to realize that word must get out ASAP. Instead he released this limp excuse, showing all too clearly what he thinks and believes: he lives in his bubble and rather likes it.

  14. sal says:

    How about all congress get tested? It’s likely that a lot more of them are infected than just Rand Paul. Most all of them are still walking around, still using the gym, still hypocritically behaving in all the ways they excoriate Paul for.

  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    Paul deserves zero slack. I show far more consideration for Door Dash drivers than he did for his co-workers, and I have no reason to even suspect I might have it. He’s a typical ‘libertarian’: narcissistic, juvenile and a prick.

    If he gets seriously ill I will play Another One Bites the Dust and toast him with a nice glass of Talisker 10. It’s not that he deserves illness and possible death, exactly, it’s just that he deserves it more than ~300,000,000 other Americans.

  16. Jackouttathebox says:

    @Michael Reynolds: This, a million times over. And if Trump gets it I’ll crack open a bottle of truly amazing wine my old boss gave me when he left the company. Bonus if he lives but ends up on a ventilator.

  17. Scott says:

    @gVOR08: Know who else is an opthalmologist?

    Bashar al-Assad

  18. Lauri D Schwartz says:

    Okay, he’s not a moron. He’s an idiot.

  19. Kurtz says:


    Besides, isn’t he a supposed (self licensed) doctor? It would appear he wasted his money on that expensive medical education.

    I used to think he was just a liar. Of course he knows that fruit flies are a key species in genetic research.

    But maybe I was wrong; he is just an idiot.


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