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Lawmakers keep finding out about coronavirus exposure after meeting with foreign officials

The U.S. continues to trail other countries on testing

Lawmakers are finding out about their exposure to the COVID-19 illness from public officials in other countries, a stark reminder that the United States continues to trail other nations on testing for the virus.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is one of the latest to test positive for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus after attending an event with an aide to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who had the illness. President Donald Trump and Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott also interacted with the aide in Florida.

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Scott and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, announced they would self-quarantine after being exposed to the Brazilian delegation member. Bolsonaro said he tested negative for the virus.

Domestic labs had conducted about 14,000 tests for the virus through Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

In contrast, at least 248,000 tests had been administered in South Korea, and tens of thousands of tests have been administered in Europe.

A spokesman for Sen. Ron Johnson said Friday the Wisconsin Republican would be “consulting with doctors about the need to self-quarantine.” Johnson met March 2 with a member of the Spanish parliament who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The spokesman said Johnson feels “healthy and well.”

Sen. Ted Cruz announced Friday he would extend a self-quarantine until March 17 after meeting with Spain’s Vox Party leader, who tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday evening. The move was made out of an abundance of caution and the Texas Republican has no symptoms, his office said.

“His staff have informed us that he was asymptomatic at the time of our meeting and that several days after our meeting he had extended interactions with another individual who has also tested positive,” Cruz’s office said in a release.

Cruz and several other lawmakers had already been quarantining themselves after being exposed to someone who tested positive to the virus at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February.

An Australian official, who media reports say met with Attorney General William Barr and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, announced Friday morning he had also tested positive for the virus.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose wife tested positive for the virus Thursday, announced he had no symptoms but would self-quarantine for 14 days.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that the U.S. health care system’s inability to test every potentially infected American for COVID-19 is a “failing.”

The CDC said in response to questions from Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., that its best guess for the number of tests that labs in the United States can at this point process is about 6,000 to 7,000 COVID-19 tests per day, but said that its estimate does not give a complete picture of testing capacity.

Emily Kopp contributed to this report.

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