By Louisville Courier Journal
Shame on you, Rand Paul. What you did — no, what you didn’t do — was irresponsible. Even reprehensible.
You were concerned enough about your own health to get tested for the coronavirus, but you didn’t care enough about other people to self-quarantine until you got the results.
Instead, you carried on business as usual, cavorting with fellow senators over lunch and reportedly working out in the Senate gym and swimming in the Senate pool.
When the story erupted Sunday, minutes after you told everyone on Twitter that you tested positive, you didn’t respond to tough questions that surfaced among your colleagues in Washington and your constituents here in Kentucky.
On Monday, you begged for compassion.
“The broader the testing and the less finger-pointing we have, the better,” you said.
“Perhaps it is too much to ask that we simply have compassion for our fellow Americans who are sick or fearful of becoming so,” you said.
No acknowledgement that you made a mistake.
This isn’t leadership, Rand Paul.
We are sorry that Kentucky’s junior senator tested positive. Yes, we do have compassion.
But we are gravely disturbed that a public official would show such disregard for a disease that has sickened more than 370,000 people worldwide and killed more than 16,000. Kentucky now has at least 124 cases and four deaths.
We are appalled that Paul would show no regard for the safety of vulnerable people.
Granted, there is no operator’s manual for leaders in this pandemic situation, but we expect more from a senator who is also a physician.
Paul, of all people, should be aware of what everyone from health officials to Louisville’s mayor, to Kentucky’s governor, to our president are saying: Act like you have the virus. Protect yourself and others.
Instead of taking an abundance of caution, Paul took the threat lightly and put people at risk.
At a minimum, he should apologize to the people he came into contact with and to his constituents for his irresponsible behavior.
He should apologize to people like Sen. Mitt Romney, whose wife has multiple sclerosis and therefore would be more susceptible to the coronavirus. Romney is in self-quarantine because of his contact with Paul.
He should apologize to all of his colleagues who are now on pins and needles because of his reckless behavior and actions.
Some of his fellow senators are lashing out at him, and rightfully so.
In a tweet Sunday, Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, called Paul’s actions inexcusable.
“This, America, is absolutely irresponsible,” Sinema said. “You cannot be near other people while waiting for coronavirus test results. It endangers others (and) likely increases the spread of the virus.”
Paul attended the Speed Art Museum’s “Speed Ball” fundraiser on March 7, and at least three people at the event eventually tested positive for COVID-19. But Paul said he had no contact with the three individuals at the party and would not say if he was getting tested for the coronavirus.
In a later statement, Paul said he decided to get tested because he “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.”
Paul said he didn’t self-quarantine because he had no symptoms and had no contact with anyone who has tested positive or been sick.
Paul should know that with COVID-19, people have had the disease and shown no symptoms.
There is no acceptable excuse for Paul’s behavior.
His actions are a disgrace.
Feel better, Sen. Paul. Get healthy.
But Kentucky won’t soon forget this horrible lapse in judgment.
We deserve better.