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Huizenga becomes first Michigan congressman to test positive for COVID-19

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga said he tested positive Wednesday after taking a rapid test for COVID-19 as part of the screening ahead of Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Grand Rapids. 

Huizenga, a Zeeland Republican, did not appear with Pence at the West Michigan campaign stop due to his test results. The congressman said he was awaiting further testing and, in the meantime, would go into isolation. 

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenger, R-Zeeland, right, talks with the media in Grand Rapids in 2018.

If his case is confirmed, Huizenga would become the first member of Congress from Michigan known to test positive for COVID-19. 

Huizenga said he was surprised by the results of the rapid test, which he took off site Wednesday morning and not at Lacks Enterprises where Pence gave remarks. 

Huizenga said he has no symptoms of the disease, but he is taking precautions and following medical guidance to isolate himself from his family until he receives the results of a PCR test — considered the gold standard for detecting the virus.

"I feel fine. I’m glad the vice president’s protocols worked for everybody’s sake," Huizenga said in an interview. 

As of early Wednesday afternoon, the congressman was still sorting out what campaign events he might have to skip in the coming days, including a visit to his district Saturday by President Donald Trump, who is expected to rally supporters in Muskegon. 

Huizenga was also set to be with GOP Senate candidate John James and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton on Friday in Holland, he said. 

In addition, he backed out of a debate Wednesday evening with his Democratic opponent, Bryan Berghoef, at the Grand Haven Tribune. 

"I had a debate tonight that I was looking forward to. We were going to be in person," Huizenga said. "We had to call and let them know that, out of an abundance of caution, I can’t go anywhere in person."

Berghoef offered well-wishes to Huizenga on Twitter.

"I look forward to a future conversation on the issues with the congressman, if and when his health permits," he wrote. "But until then, the health of Rep. Huizenga, his family, and our entire community is our top concern.

Huizenga isn't worried at the moment, saying he knows others who have had COVID-19, including his college roommate in Wisconsin and others.

"Some folks have quite serious reactions with it, and others literally didn’t feel any symptoms. One guy I know lost his sense of smell for a couple weeks," he said.

"Obviously, it affects people differently, and we just wanted to be cautious." 

mburke@detroitnews.com