One of the most anti-mask members of Congress, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, has tested positive for COVID-19. Gohmert was scheduled to travel to Texas with President Donald Trump and got a positive result after taking a test at the White House.
Gohmert told CNN last month that he would only start wearing a mask regularly if and when he contracted COVID-19. According to that CNN report, Gohmert “spends ample time on the House floor not wearing a mask, often talking with aides and lawmakers at length while not maintaining a social distance.” In recent weeks, the iconoclastic Texan has been in the news for banging on his desk (while not wearing a mask) in an effort to interrupt a congressional witness and defending supporters of his who took part in fights (while themselves not wearing masks) at an event being held by the Democrat running against him in November. On Tuesday, Gohmert’s chief of staff used Facebook to post an alternate link to a conspiracy theory video in which a doctor who has espoused bizarre beliefs regarding demon sperm and alien DNA argued that mask usage is unnecessary. (Both Facebook and Twitter have attempted to remove the video from circulation on their platforms.)
Here is Gohmert’s statement on his positive test:
Prior to the House Judiciary Committee’s Tuesday hearing with Attorney General William Barr, Gohmert reportedly spent time in and outside the hearing room without a mask. On Wednesday, Hill reporter Olivia Beavers shared footage of Barr and Gohmert walking toward the hearing room in close proximity, each maskless:
NPR’s Carrie Johnson reported that Barr would be tested on Wednesday for COVID-19. Depending on his level of contact with Gohmert, health guidelines might call for Barr to quarantine for a number of days.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Rep. Matt Gaetz used the same seat and shared the same microphone as Gohmert. Three other members of the Republican caucus—Reps. Mike Johnson, Jim Jordan, and Andy Biggs—were chastised by committee Chairman Jerry Nadler for not wearing a mask during the proceedings. Following the hearing, a maskless Johnson gave the maskless Barr a wrist bump.
ABC News’ Katherine Faulders further reported that Gohmert returned to his congressional office after his positive test to personally inform his staff of the result. He is, truly, a man with a deep-rooted ideological commitment to not understanding the absolute most fundamental things about having a contagious disease.
This post has been updated to include Gohmert’s statement on the positive test.
For more of Slate’s news coverage, subscribe to What Next on Apple Podcasts or listen below.