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Lawmakers use their breakthrough infections to push COVID-19 vaccines and boosters

Jim Watson
AFP via Getty Images
Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren chat during a break in the first Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season. Both announce they had breakthrough COVID-19 infections.

A spate of elected officials have announced breakthrough COVID-19 cases in the past day, stressing that their symptoms are mild and urging others to get vaccinated and boosted.

On Monday morning, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that he had gotten a positive result from a COVID-19 rapid test. Hogan, who is vaccinated and boosted, tweeted that the result was part of his regular testing routine, and that he is "feeling fine at the moment."

"As the Omicron variant becomes dominant, I want to urge you to get vaccinated or get your booster shot as soon as possible," he said.

Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren both announced on Sunday that they had tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated and boosted.

Warren said in an afternoon tweet that she is regularly tested for COVID-19, and tested positive with a breakthrough case on Sunday after getting negative results earlier in the week.

"Thankfully, I am only experiencing mild symptoms & am grateful for the protection provided against serious illness that comes from being vaccinated & boosted," she added.

She added a similar booster pitch: "As the Omicron variant becomes dominant, I want to urge you to get vaccinated or get your booster shot as soon as possible."

Hours later, Booker said he too had tested positive after first feeling symptoms on Saturday, calling them "relatively mild."

"I'm beyond grateful to have received two doses of vaccine and, more recently, a booster – I'm certain that without them I would be doing much worse," he said.

Later on Sunday, Congressman Jason Crow, D-Colo., announced he had tested positive after returning from an official congressional delegation visit to Ukraine. Crow also said he had been vaccinated and boosted, and reported only mild symptoms — "the vaccine is safe and effective," he added.

More such announcements are likely to follow.

COVID-19 cases are surging across the U.S., at least in part because of the highly transmissible omicron variant. Cities like New York and Washington, D.C., are breaking their pandemic daily case records, and new cases across the U.S. now average more than 125,000 per day.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, says booster shots are critical to fighting the current surge of coronavirus cases nationwide.

NPR is tracking cases among members of Congress here.

Versions of this story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.