(March 23) Sen. Rand Paul has come under fierce criticism for failing to self-isolate after being tested for the coronavirus, but the criticism is entirely undeserved. The Kentucky Republican not only acted responsibly throughout, but he flawlessly combined official protocols and logic.

Paul, who discovered Sunday that he had tested positive for the virus, merits sympathy rather than condemnation.

As a vociferous critic of Paul’s for years, I believe his case is quite strong.

As Paul explained, he went above and beyond the call of duty just by getting tested for COVID-19 in the first place. Again and again, officials in the daily White House briefings have said people who are asymptomatic ordinarily should refrain from being tested while testing availability is limited. Paul was indeed asymptomatic when he got tested, and he remains so. Nonetheless, because he had part of a lung removed last year, he knew he might be particularly susceptible to serious consequences if he did contract the virus. Exercising proper prudence, he asked for a test anyway.

Critics are saying that if he thought he might be sick, he should have self-isolated. But he had no reason to think he was sick — again, he only took the test out of an abundance of caution. As he explained: “Given that my wife and I had traveled extensively during the weeks prior to COVID-19 social distancing practices, and that I am at a higher risk for serious complications from the virus due to having part of my lung removed seven months ago, I took a COVID-19 test when I arrived in D.C. last Monday. I felt that it was highly unlikely that I was positive since I have had no symptoms of the illness, nor have I had contact with anyone who has either tested positive for the virus or been sick.”

He noted that he had no more reason to suspect he had contracted the virus than any of his colleagues: “Since nearly every member of the U.S. Senate travels by plane across the country multiple times per week and attends lots of large gatherings, I believed my risk factor for exposure to the virus to be similar to that of my colleagues.”…

[The full column is here.]


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