Ron Johnson quarantined for COVID exposure, skips Trump rally

    Ron Johnson with his mouth open in a yell
    "Ron Johnson" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s office announced on Thursday that Johnson will be under quarantine until Sept. 29 after being exposed to someone infected with COVID-19.

    Johnson, who had been planning to travel with President Donald Trump to a rally in Mosinee, Wis. on Thursday night, tested negative for the virus on Wednesday.

    “Sen. Johnson was informed today that he was exposed to someone on Monday who has tested positive for COVID-19,” Ben Voelkel, a spokesman for the senator, said in a statement on Thursday, reported CNN. “Sen. Johnson is experiencing no symptoms, but was tested late Wednesday because he was scheduled to travel with the President today. Sen. Johnson tested negative, but he has been placed in quarantine until September 29. Sen. Johnson will not be traveling with the President or attending the event in Mosinee tonight.”

    The Mosinee rally comes on the heels of an indoor Trump rally in Nevada, for which the venue was fined $3,000 for violating a state public health order against gathering more than 50 people in close quarters indoors.

    Trump told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he is not afraid of getting the COVID-19 from speaking at the event.

    “I’m on a stage and it’s very far away,” Trump said. “And so I’m not at all concerned.”

    Another Trump ally, Herman Cain, chairman of Black Voices for Trump, died of COVID-19 after attending a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after which several members of the Trump campaign tested positive for COVID-19.

    Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier this week, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) announced that she had been exposed to the virus and would remain in quarantine for 14 days.

    Back in March, Johnson wrote an op-ed in USA Today urging the public to “try to put things in perspective” when it comes to the pandemic. 

    “Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life,” the senator wrote. “ More than 2.8 million die each year — nearly 7,700 a day. The 2017-18 flu season was exceptionally bad, with 61,000 deaths attributed to it. Can you imagine the panic if those mortality statistics were attributed to a new virus and reported nonstop?”

    Johnson went on to call for a more aggressive reopening of the economy.

    Wisconsin surpassed 2,000 daily cases of COVID-19 for the first time on Thursday, with a record 2,034 new cases in one day. That brings the total of Wisconsin COVID cases to  more than 94,000 since the pandemic began. The state has seen 1.231 COVID-19 deaths.

    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.