Miami GOP congresswoman to miss swearing-in due to COVID-19 diagnosis


Maria Elvira Salazar for Congress Website

MIAMI (AP) — María Elvira Salazar, a Republican who defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala in November, has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and will miss a swearing-in ceremony in Washington on Sunday, her office announced Thursday.

Salazar, 59, learned of her diagnosis during an emergency trip to the hospital for treatment of a heart arrhythmia, a news release said. She was treated, released and will quarantine for at least 14 days.

This forces her to miss the Jan. 3 swearing in of the 117th Congress.

In a tweet, Salazar said: “I am in quarantine at home & getting better each day. I look forward to hitting the ground running for my community, once it is medically permissible.”

Other members of Miami’s new congressional delegation have already contracted COVID-19, including Congressman-elect Carlos Gimenez and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.

Luke Letlow, an incoming Republican congressman from Louisiana, died of complications of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Florida reported 13,871 new cases and 139 new deaths, raising the death toll to 21,857 according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.

The state’s hospital bed census tallied 6,352 coronavirus patients by late morning on Thursday, a slight increase from Wednesday’s figure of 6,331.

Hospitals and health departments have been struggling to keep up with the demand for COVID-19 vaccines since they became available for people 65 and older.

People have clogged hotlines to book appointments, and some seniors have camped out overnight outside vaccination sites, leading some hospitals to hit pause on scheduling further shots.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has begged for patience from anxious seniors waiting for their shot citing the vaccine is still in limited supply. The top state official overseeing the vaccine distribution said the systems set up to sign up for the vaccine in the state “aren’t meeting the moment.”

Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel that the state has directed distribution of about 700,000 dosages of the cocktail, but only about a quarter of those have been used so far.

“That tells me there are vaccines sitting in freezers … we want all of our partners to know it’s their jobs to get the vaccine out there,” Moskowitz said.

Moskowitz also expressed frustration with the federal government for sending limited information on the amount of doses that will be sent, which has complicated state planning. And he said the contract the federal government has with drug store chains to innoculate residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities “has been a mediocre experience.”

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