Three Minnesota GOP congressmen have come under fire for traveling aboard a Delta flight on Friday night following President Donald Trump’s positive coronavirus diagnosis—and just two days after flying on Air Force One with the president and COVID-19 positive members of the Trump administration.
U.S. Representatives Pete Stauber, Tom Emmer and Jim Hagedorn all reported that they tested negative for the coronavirus on Friday after traveling on the presidential aircraft to and from Trump’s Duluth, Minnesota, rally on Wednesday.
They traveled via Delta Airlines from Washington D.C. back home to Minnesota on Friday night, according to the Star Tribune.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other health experts, advised that anyone who has had exposure to the virus or has come in contact with someone who tests positive must undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Delta Airline’s coronavirus policy also stated that customers who have knowingly been exposed to the virus in the past 14 days may not travel.
Along with backlash on social media for traveling so soon after hearing about Trump’s positive diagnosis, the congressmen received scalding criticism from the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party. The group released a statement on Friday about the incident, with remarks from its chairman, Ken Martin.
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“By flying so soon after being exposed to COVID-19, Congressmen Emmer, Hagedorn, and Stauber deliberately put the health and safety of their fellow passengers at serious risk,” Martin said. “As these Congressmen know, medical experts have said that a negative test soon after exposure is nearly meaningless.”
He added: “Millions of Americans have sacrificed so much to slow the spread of COVID-19, yet Congressmen Emmer, Stauber, and Hagedorn could not even wait a few days to board an airplane. These Congressmen’s stupidity and disregard for the well-being of their fellow passengers is staggering.”
Delta Airlines spokeswoman Gina Laughlin told the Star Tribune that the congressmen’s flight was less than 40 percent full and that no one protested boarding the flight while the three men were on board.
“We also require customers to acknowledge that they are healthy to fly during check-in and have additional protocols in place for added screening,” Laughlin said in an email to the publication. She reinforced that Delta Airlines has strict cleaning, social distancing and mask-wearing policies.
Trump announced early Friday morning that he and the first lady, Melania Trump, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday following the positive diagnosis of the president’s closest campaign aide, Hope Hicks.
The day before his positive test result, the president held a rally in Duluth, gathering roughly 3,000 people. In attendance were Stauber, Emmer and Hagedorn, who was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer in 2019.
“It was quite an honor spending yesterday with President Trump and my colleagues Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber, as well as U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis,” said Hagedorn in a Facebook post on Thursday. “Tom, Pete and I flew with the President to and from his Duluth Rally on Air Force One. We enjoyed the opportunity to discuss mining, manufacturing and agricultural issues with the President.”
Newsweek reached out to Delta Airlines and the three congressmen individually for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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