Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who has been seen without a coronavirus face mask in the U.S. Capitol and last month downplayed the importance of wearing one, has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
Gohmert tested positive for the virus at the White House on Wednesday before he was scheduled to fly to Texas with President Donald Trump, Politico first reported, citing multiple unnamed sources. ABC News also confirmed the test result.
Gohmert then returned to his Capitol Hill office to inform his staff of his positive test in person, ABC News reported, citing unnamed “people familiar with the matter.”
The 66-year-old lawmaker was seen wearing a bandana around his neck at Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, during which he questioned Attorney General William Barr about protests taking place and their relation to the virus’s spread.
But Gohmert was not wearing a mask when he arrived for the hearing directly behind Barr, who also wasn’t wearing a mask, according to video shared on social media by a reporter for The Hill.
Gohmert’s chief of staff, Connie Hair, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment Wednesday but tweeted that he wore a mask at Tuesday’s hearing unless he was speaking and “has been wearing one.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told an MSNBC reporter that she is “so sorry for him” upon hearing the news of Gohmert’s diagnosis.
“But I’m also sorry [for] my members who are concerned because he has been showing up at meetings without a mask and making a thing of it,” she added. “Hopefully, now, he will look after his health and others.”
Gohmert, an eight-term representative, last month said that he would not wear a facial covering, which health officials recommend to prevent the virus’s spread, arguing in an interview with CNN that he is tested regularly for the virus and has never had it.
“But if I get it, you’ll never see me without a mask,” he told the news outlet.
Gohmert made similar statements during a meeting with Trump back in May, when he told attending media outlets that members of Congress are tested regularly for the virus and that “the only reason we would wear masks is if we were trying to protect ourselves from you, in the media. And we’re not scared of you.”
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