MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee’s senior senator, has been spending a lot of time away from Washington and at home in Maryville, Tennessee after he was exposed to COVID-19 by a staffer who came down with the virus.
WREG caught up with Alexander to talk about life in quarantine.
“I’m not infected, so far as I know,” Alexander said. “I had a test last Thursday and it was negative. But I’m doing what you’re supposed to do when you may have been exposed. I’m spending two weeks self-isolating.”
But Alexander is still working from his home near the Great Smokey Mountains.
“I’m doing plenty of work. I conducted a hearing Monday that a lot of people watched with Dr. Fauci and others,” he said.
Lamar Alexander has seen a lot in his day – a university president, education secretary, governor of Tennessee and United States senator — but he’s never seen anything quite like this.
Asked if the state might’ve opened too soon, Alexander said he though Tennessee was on the right track.
He said the governor has a tough job because people are really hurting while the economy is closed, but he continued, “if do we don’t do our best to stay apart for a while, this thing will multiply.”
The Senate will be tested when it’s asked to vote on another $3 trillion stimulus bill, which Alexander believes will get strong pushback from his Republican colleagues.
“Spending all the money is not going to end the crisis,” he said. “What ends the crisis is testing, treatments and vaccines.”
But he firmly believes we’re on the fast track to doing that.
“The encouragement is that we’re testing more than any country and going up rapidly, and that should make it much easier for us to go back to work and school,” Alexander said. “Treatments are starting to arrive medicines, so if you get sick, you’re much less likely to die. And third, the vaccine that is being searched for more rapidly than we ever have, is likely to be available by the end of the year.”
The senator will stay in self-isolation for at least the next week.