The Republican representing Texas’ 1st Congressional District will no longer be joining President Trump on a visit to the oil-rich city of Odessa.
(CN) — Louie Gohmert, a Republican representing East Texas cities in the U.S. House of Representatives, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus after reportedly refusing to wear a face mask or socially distance on Capitol Hill.
“I went to the White House today, but before you go in … they test you with the quick test, and it tested positive. But they get false positives sometimes, so they retested me with the swab that goes way up into your sinuses, and when it finally came back, it was positive, too,” Gohmert said in a Twitter video Wednesday. “I don’t have any of the symptoms that are listed as part of Covid-19, but apparently I have the Wuhan virus.”
Gohmert was scheduled to join President Donald Trump on his Wednesday visit to Odessa, an oil-rich city above the Permian Basin in West Texas.
Though Gohmert has worn a mask during House hearings as required by committee rules, reporters in Washington say the Texas Republican was frequently seen without a mask at the Capitol. He was near Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday, for example, according to a correspondent for The Hill who saw the pair speaking outside the men’s bathroom.
In his video address, Gohmert disputed reports that he frequently failed to wear a mask in public.
“I’ve worn a mask more in the last week or two than I have in the whole last four months,” the congressman said. “I don’t know about everybody, but when I have a mask on, I’m moving it to make it comfortable. I can’t help but wonder if that put some germs in the mask — keep your hands off your mask.
“Anyway, who knows. But now that I apparently have it, I will be very, very careful to make sure I don’t give it to anybody else, and we’ll see how it goes. God bless you all,” Gohmert concluded.
During a May 8 meeting at the White House, Gohmert spoke with Trump and addressed the gathered officials’ lack of masks.
“I do want to advise our media friends, before they write stories about how we didn’t wear masks and we didn’t possibly socially distance adequately, that you saw to it that we had tests and that nobody in here has the coronavirus, unless it’s somebody in the media,” Gohmert said at the time. “So the only reason we would wear masks is if we were trying to protect ourselves from you and the media, and we’re not scared of you. So that’s why we can be there like this.”
When CNN reporters told Gohmert in late June that public health experts say asymptomatic carriers could spread the novel coronavirus to others without realizing it, the lawmaker stood his ground.
“But I keep being tested and I don’t have it,” Gohmert reportedly said. “So I’m not afraid of you, but if I get it I’ll wear a mask.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises even healthy-seeming people to always wear cloth face coverings in front of others because they “are meant to protect other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms.”
Gohmert represents Texas’ 1st Congressional District, which covers several small East Texas cities such as Lufkin, Tyler and Nacogdoches.