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Sen. Jeff Merkley tests positive for COVID

Merkley said he is experiencing mild symptoms and attributed that to being vaccinated and boosted.
Credit: KGW

PORTLAND, Ore — Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced in a news release on Monday. 

The case was detected after Merkley made close contact with someone with COVID-19, his office said. Merkley said he is experiencing mild symptoms and attributed that to being vaccinated and boosted. He encouraged Oregonians to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19.

"This is yet another reminder that COVID is still among us. As Americans make plans before the holiday weekend, I encourage everyone to take steps to make sure the virus is not an uninvited guest."

Merkley is one of Oregon's two federal senators. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden tested positive for COVID-19 in late April as part of routine testing while he was in Washington, D.C. Wyden is fully vaccinated and he experienced minor symptoms.

RELATED: Ron Wyden tests positive for COVID

Oregon's congressional delegation is part of a wave of COVID-19 cases among lawmakers in the past month. Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio tested positive for coronavirus on April 8. 

Vice President Kamala Harris also tested positive in late April.

Last week during a news conference, health officials underscored rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state. Dr. Dean Sidelinger, epidemiologist and health officer for the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), said there is more COVID in the community and the chances of Oregonians being exposed now are even higher.

The OHA reported 18,477 new cases from May 2 to May 15, which is a 51% rise over the previous biweekly total of 12,234. COVID-related hospitalizations dropped slightly, with 208 new hospitalizations from May 2 to May 15, compared to 218 reported during the previous two-week period.

Despite the spike in COVID cases, Sidelinger said he does not anticipate the state implementing measures like a statewide mask mandate.

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RELATED: WHO chief: The COVID pandemic is 'most certainly not over'

RELATED: Latest Oregon COVID numbers: Cases, hospitalizations and vaccinations

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