Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert, who has been one of the least willing members of congress to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic, tested positive for COVID-19 this morning during a pre-flight screening before boarding Air Force One. He had been scheduled to fly with Donald Trump to tour an oil rig in Midland, Texas, but will now instead be in quarantine.
Gohmert is among a group of Republicans who has consistently pushed back on recommendations and requests from other congress members to wear a mask, often using the Trump line to say he had been tested so he didn’t need one. It’s not yet clear how many people the congressman exposed in between contracting the virus and testing positive during the pre-flight screening.
Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren brought up Gohmert’s positive test to encourage other members of congress to wear their masks during a Wednesday hearing.
“He was a member who was unwilling to consistently wear a mask,” said Lofgren. “It’s a reminder that this is very serious and if you’re unwilling to wear a mask that covers your nose and your mouth, please do leave the room and we’ll arrange for you to participate remotely.”
Meanwhile, Gohmert suggested to a local Texas news affiliate that wearing a mask might have caused him to get himself sick.
“I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, if I might have put some… of the virus on the mask and breathed it in,” said Gohmert according to KETK. “But the reports of my demise are very premature.”
Of course, if you are able to “put some of the virus on the mask” by breathing into it, you are already infected. Breathing those particles back in changes nothing.
The senior congressman reportedly may have exposed Attorney General William Barr to the virus, among others. These others may include his entire staff, whom ABC reporter Katherine Faulders says were informed by Gohmert in person rather than from a more appropriate, socially distant location.
Gohmert will be in isolation for the next 10 days and has said that he still believes in “personal freedom” when it comes to deciding whether to wear a mask or potentially expose people to the novel coronavirus. Many voters and fellow politicians are not pleased with Gohmert’s continuing anti-mask narrative, with some pointing out how he and other Republicans had mocked Democrats for insisting that everyone wear masks.