- The oldest member of the US Senate, 86 year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, is taking the novel coronavirus in stride, even as multiple members of Congress test positive.
- “I’ve been in worse situations, I’ve seen people shot and killed, I’ve found dead people, all of that, so this is not a big deal,” Feinstein told the Wall Street Journal.
- In a gruesome 1978 incident, Feinstein discovered the dead bodies of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, who were assassinated in City Hall by a rival politician.
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The novel coronavirus outbreak is roiling Congress, with two members of the House already testing positive for the disease and more than a dozen members of Congress self-quarantining after being exposed to the virus.
Even though the Capitol closed to visitors over a week ago, the House and the Senate are particularly vulnerable to the virus both because of the large number of members and staffers occupying one space, and the fact that members of Congress are older on average than the general population.
In the 116th Congress, the average member of the House is 57.6 years old, and the average US senator is 63, placing many members squarely in the age group most vulnerable to contracting and experiencing complications from the novel coronavirus.
But not all members of Congress are concerned. The oldest member of the US Senate, 86 year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, is taking the virus in stride – even as her home city of San Francisco goes under a “shelter-in-place” order.
“I’ve been in worse situations, I’ve seen people shot and killed, I’ve found dead people, all of that, so this is not a big deal,”Feinstein told the Wall Street Journal.
Feinstein first got into politics over half a century ago in 1969, when she was first elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. And in the politically tumultuous 1970s, Feinstein was exposed to her fair share of political violence.
In her nine years on the Board of Supervisors, Feinstein was targeted by a radical leftist terror group, the New World Liberation Front.
The group placed a bomb, which ultimately didn’t detonate, on a windowsill in her San Francisco home and shot out the windows of a beach house that her family owned. She wasn’t home at the time and no one was hurt.
In a particularly gruesome 1978 incident, Feinstein discovered the dead bodies of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, who were assassinated in City Hall by a rival politician, former Supervisor Dan White.
After seeing White flee Milk’s office after killing both men, Feinstein went into the office to find Milk dead. After the shooting, Feinstein helped police identify both bodies, and announced the grisly assassinations in a public press conference.
“He whisked by, everybody disappeared. I walked down the line of supervisors’ offices. I walked into one and found Harvey Milk – put my finger in a bullet hole trying to get a pulse. But you know, it was the first person I’d ever seen shot to death, and you know when they’re dead,” Feinstein told CNN’s Dana Bash in 2017.
Feinstein then finished out the rest of Moscone’s term as Mayor of San Francisco, and was elected to a full term as in 1979, the first woman to serve in the position.
After two full terms as the city’s mayor, Feinstein was elected to the US Senate in 1992, where she has used her position to strongly advocate for gun control legislation, including leading the charge to pass the 1994 and the attempt to renew it in 2013.