Rick Scott announces COVID diagnosis following campaign appearance in GA Senate races

rick scott
Florida U.S. Sen Rick Scott is isolating himself at his home in Naples following a positive COVID test. Screenshot

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott announced Friday that he is infected with the coronavirus and is working from his home in Naples while experiencing mild symptoms.

The word came one week to the day after he attended a crowded campaign event on behalf of the two GOP Senate candidates in Georgia. However, Scott said he believes he was infected in Florida.

“After several negative tests, I learned I was positive for COVID-19 this AM. I’m feeling good & experiencing very mild symptoms. I’ll be working from home until it’s safe for me to return to DC. I remind everyone to be careful & do the right things to protect yourselves & others,” Scott said on one of his Twitter accounts.

Scott, also a Republican, said this in a written statement issued by his Senate office:

“As we approach Thanksgiving, we know this holiday will be different this year. But, listen to public health officials and follow their guidance. We will beat this together, but we all have to be responsible. I want to thank all the incredible health care workers who are working around the clock to care for patients and I pray that by next Thanksgiving, COVID-19 will be a thing of the past.”

Florida’s U.S. Sen. Rick Scott attended a campaign event for Georgia GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, at a crowded Forsyth County sports grill on Friday (Nov. 13). Credit: Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Scott ignored those guidelines on Nov. 13 by appearing at a packed sports bar in Forsyth County, a northern Atlanta suburb, to voice support for Republican U.S. Sens. David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler, both in runoffs for reelection against, respectively, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

The Georgia races will determine whether the Democrats or Republicans control the Senate and can help or hinder the new Biden administration.

The Georgia Record, an affiliate with the Florida Phoenix of the nonprofit States Newsroom, reported Scott’s appearance at the event.

Scott announced the next day that he’d come into contact with someone infected with COVID at the event and was isolating himself.

“After arriving in Florida last night, I came into contact with someone who subsequently tested positive for COVID,” Scott wrote on Twitter at the time. “I was tested this (Saturday) morning and the result was negative. I have no symptoms, but out of an abundance of caution, I will be immediately quarantining.”

The announcement came one day after Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, announced his plans to administer COVID vaccines when they become available, possibly by the end of the year but reserved at first for first responders, medical workers, and nursing home patients.

DeSantis, a close ally of President Trump, has eased COVID-inspired restrictions on the Florida economy and has rejected calls to impose a statewide mask mandate to constrain spread of the coronavirus, even barring local governments from enforcing mask requirements.

At last word, the Florida Department of Health had reported 914,333 COVID diagnoses in Florida, with 52,865 hospitalizations and 17,810 deaths.

COVID has also reached into the Florida Legislature. During House and Senate reorganization sessions this week, two senators with known infections were absent, as were seven House members. It wasn’t clear why those representatives weren’t there, although House Speaker Chris Sprowls acknowledged that some members had tested positive for COVID.

Note: This story has been updated with additional details.

Michael Moline
Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.