A staffer on U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall’s Senate campaign tested positive for the coronavirus last week, Marshall’s campaign confirmed Tuesday, although they noted that there was no contact between Marshall and the worker since before the exposure.
The news, first reported by the Kansas City Star, comes in the final days of Marshall’s battle with Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in Washington, D.C.
The staffer has been a full-time member of Marshall’s campaign but their most recent contact with the candidate came earlier in October on a statewide bus tour sponsored by the Kansas Republican Party.
They later began self-quarantining after developing symptoms following exposure at a "personal event," according to a statement from Marshall’s chief of staff, Brent Robertson. They then tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
That event came after the bus tour and there has been no contact with Marshall since before the exposure, the campaign said.
"We worked with local officials on contact tracing, and no members of the Marshall team had to quarantine or test," Robertson said in a statement. "Dr. Marshall has not had any contact with the team member since before the personal event, and before symptoms. Out of an abundance of caution, Dr. Marshall regularly tests, and continues to be negative."
The campaign hasn’t revealed the identity of the staffer.
Bollier tested negative for the virus before facing off with Marshall in a debate Thursday night in Wichita, with the two candidates in the same television studio, albeit socially distanced.
Her campaign said Bollier would be getting another test "as soon as possible given her contact with Congressman Marshall," communications director Alexandra De Luca said.
"Marshall’s campaign has a responsibility to the people of Kansas to not be vague here and to disclose the staffer for contact tracing purposes," De Luca said. "We wish them a speedy recovery."
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a key issue over the course of the campaign. Marshall has praised President Donald Trump’s pandemic response while echoing Trump’s rhetoric that the U.S. is winning the war against the virus, despite rising case counts in Kansas.
Bollier has also criticized Marshall for holding campaign events where attendees didn’t wear masks and has urged the federal government to do more to stop the virus’s spread.
"It is concerning to see a doctor more concerned with his political health than the health of Kansans," Bollier said during the first debate in September.
The congressman has countered that his campaign had held outdoor events whenever possible and encouraged facial coverings.
"I think everyone should respect the virus," Marshall said at the bus tour stop in Topeka. "I think everybody should wear a mask when they can, keep the physical distance, wash their hands, all those types of things as well."