Rep. Louis Gohmert, a Texas Republican who was slated to travel with President Donald Trump to the Lone Star State Wednesday, has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gohmert regularly refuses to wear a mask.
Politico broke the story and reported Wednesday morning that Gohmert tested positive at the White House during pre-screening for the trip. He then informed staffers, in person, at the Rayburn House Office Building that he had the virus, Playbook said.
Later, during a television appearance, Gohmert suggested that briefly wearing a mask might have contributed to him contracting the virus.
‘I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place if I might have put some germs, some of the virus onto the mask and breathed it in,’ Gohmert said. ‘I don’t know. I got it. We’ll see what happens from here.’
‘But the reports of my demise are premature,’ the Texas lawmaker added.
Rep. Louis Gohmert, who is regularly seen on Capitol Hill not wearing a mask, tested positive for the coronavirus, Politico first reported. Gohmert’s case was found because he was being screened at the White House so he could travel to Texas with President Trump Wednesdsay
C-SPAN’s cameras captured Rep. Louis Gohmert, sans mask, Tuesday on Capitol Hill outside the hearing room where lawmakers quizzed Attorney General Bill Barr for five hours. Now Barr will have to be tested for the coronavirus too
President Donald Trump is captured boarding Air Force One to Texas Wednesday. Gohmert was supposed to accompany Trump to the state but tested positive for coronavirus at the White House during pre-screening
Attorney General Bill Barr will get tested for COVID-19 after coming in close contact with Rep. Louis Gohmert during Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, which both men attended
The White House tests individuals who will interact with the president by taking a sample using a nasal swab and then running it through an Abbott Laboratories point-of-care test, which can deliver results in less than 15 minutes.
The Texas Republican told CNN last month that he wasn’t wearing a mask because he’s tested regularly for COVID-19.
‘But I keep being tested and I don’t have it. So I’m not afraid of you,’ Gohmert told the reporter, who had mentioned to the Texas lawmaker that asymptomatic people could be carrying the coronavirus.
Gohmert also told the network that if he did contact the virus he would mask-up.
‘I don’t have the coronavirus, turns out as of yesterday I’ve never had it. But if I get it, you’ll never see me without a mask,’ he said.
A Gohmert staffer wrote into the Politico Playbook newsletter after the news broke sharing with reporters that Gohmert ‘requires full staff to be in the office, including three interns, so that “we could be an example to American on how to open up safely.”‘
The aide also suggested to journalists, ‘When probing the office, you might want to ask how often were people berated for wearing masks.’
Now that he’s tested positive Gohmert will be advised to quarantine for at least 14 days and won’t be able to return to Capitol Hill until he’s tested negative for the virus twice.
Other lawmakers who have tested positive for the virus include GOP Sen. Rand Paul and Republican Reps. Mario Diaz Balart of Florida, Neal Dunn of Florida, Morgan Griffith of Virginia, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania and Tom Rice of South Carolina.
Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams also tested positive in March.
At work, Republicans have been more mask-averse, with Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler chiding his GOP colleagues for taking off their masks during Tuesday’s fraught hearing featuring Attorney General Bill Barr, which Gohmert attended.
Reuters reported Wednesday that Barr will be tested for COVID-19, as he testified before the Judiciary Committee for five hours and thus came in contact with Gohmert.
Nadler told one GOP lawmaker that sipping coffee wasn’t an excuse to have his mask off while in the committee room.
‘It is not permissible,’ Nadler said, smacking his gavel.
His comments weren’t directed at Gohmert during that time.
Nadler sent some back-handed well wishes to Gohmert on Wednesday.
‘I want to wish @RepLouisGohmert a full & speedy recovery. When individuals refuse to take the necessary precautions it puts everyone at risk. I’ve regularly instructed all Members to wear their masks and hope this is a lesson by all my colleagues,’ Nadler tweeted.
Gohmert was, however, seen outside the committee room sans mask Tuesday.
‘Gohmert ought to quarantine himself right now,’ remarked Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democrats’ No. 2. ‘He came into the room without a mask on … Totally irresponsible behavior,’ Hoyer told C-SPAN.
Hoyer also said leadership should reconsider testing members of Congress.
Initially, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t accept offers to utilize rapid testing techologies because of the nationwide COVID-19 testing shortage.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a former Republican member of Congress, told reporters on the Hill Wednesday that he had spoken to Gohmert.
‘He’s doing well. He’s asymptomatic. I think he’s concerned like everybody else would be, but he’s doing fine.’
Meadows also said that Gohmert is in quarantine.
‘Oh yeah, yeah,’ the chief of staff said.
Trump is off to Texas for the day to raise funds for his re-election campaign and tour an oil rig.
It’s customary for the president to invite political allies from where he’s traveling to take Air Force One along with him to a state.