HOUSTON, Texas -- Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced that he will now extend his self-quarantine until March 17 after "a second interaction" with an individual who tested positive for coronavirus.
Cruz is is also speaking out critically about the Trump administration's handling of coronavirus testing.
Cruz, who has been a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump, criticized the administration’s response to the ongoing public health crisis over novel coronavirus and said its roll-out of tests was "undoubtedly" too slow.
"There are areas in the public health crisis that I think the administration has done well," Cruz told ABC News. "There are areas where they have not done as well, and they need to do better."
"I think the rollout of the test was clearly problematic," he added. "There were mistakes in terms of the efficacy."
He later added that tests should have been delivered across the country "with speed and efficiency," and said that the "bureaucracy was a little bit slow in bringing the private sector into it."
In a statement, Cruz said that his initial period of self-quarantine came to an end but added, "Unfortunately, last night I was informed I had a second interaction with an individual who yesterday tested positive for COVID-19."
"On March 3, I met in my D.C. office with Santiago Abascal, the leader of the Vox Party in Spain," he said, adding, "My understanding is that Mr. Abascal tested positive for COVID-19 last night."
Cruz said that while he is "still not feeling any symptoms," he has decided "out of an abundance of caution and to give everyone peace of mind — I am extending the self-quarantine to March 17, a full fourteen days from my meeting with Mr. Abascal."
As lawmakers on Capitol Hill grapple with how to contain the spread of coronavirus across the United States, nine members of Congress are now taking steps to either self-quarantine or otherwise isolate themselves as a precaution after coming into contact with an infected individual.
Five Republican lawmakers -- Cruz along with Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Doug Collins of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Mark Meadows of North Carolina -- opted to self-quarantine after interacting with an individual at the Conservative Political Action Conference who has tested positive for coronavirus.
Two Democrats are also taking precautionary measures. California Rep. Julia Brownley announced this week that she and her staff are now working remotely after finding out that she recently came into contact with someone who tested positive. Virginia Rep. Don Beyer also announced that he will self-quarantine after learning that a friend he interacted with recently tested positive.
Republican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Lindsey Graham also announced this week that they are self-quarantining.