(CNN)Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert has an outsized reputation for flouting coronavirus mask-wearing guidance.
While at the US Capitol, he has spent ample time on the House floor not wearing a mask, often talking with aides and lawmakers at length while not maintaining an appropriate social distance, as CNN’s Manu Raju and Clare Foran wrote last month.At the time he explained that he didn’t wear a mask because he had been tested and didn’t have the virus: “But if I get it, you’ll never see me without a mask,” Gohmert said.Now, he has tested positive for coronavirus.
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Gohmert, who said he is asymptomatic, says that now he “will be religiously wearing a mask” if it is possible that he will come into contact with anyone else, and plans to isolate for the next 10 days in accordance with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.Read MoreBut Gohmert didn’t leave it there — instead, he suggested he might have contracted the virus because of the mask.”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,” Gohmert told Texas affiliate KETK on Wednesday. When masks are worn incorrectly, it can lead to exposure, health officials say.Gohmert noted that despite his earlier comments, “in the last week or two, I have worn a mask more than I have in the whole last four months.” He’s also not changed his views on mask-wearing, saying “this used to be a free country.” The CDC advises people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.Many of the counties in Gohmert’s East Texas district are not enforcing the state’s mask mandate, KETK reports.Gohmert is one of multiple members of Congress flouting the mask requirements put in place on Capitol Hill to keep members, their staff and employees of the complex safe.Last week, a longtime staffer for GOP Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan died from coronavirus.Unlike the White House’s protocols for those in contact with President Donald Trump, there is no requirement for members of Congress or staff to be tested for coronavirus. Gohmert learned he was positive because he was slated to travel to Texas with Trump on Air Force One, so he received a test as part of that protocol. However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today that congressional leaders are now discussing a testing process. The Point: Not wearing a mask, or even inconsistent mask-wearing while not social distancing, puts the people around you at risk. Full stop.