Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) came under fire on Wednesday for traversing the U.S. Capitol after learning he tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to Politico, Gohmert went back to his office on Capitol Hill to tell his staff in person that he had the virus, potentially exposing his aides further.
Before testing positive, Gohmert had been all over the Capitol without a mask — endangering his fellow members, congressional staff, and even Attorney General William Barr, who was spotted alongside Gohmert at a hearing on Tuesday. Barr is now being tested for the virus following his contact with the Texas lawmaker.
Gohmert has since said he will self-isolate for 10 days, in accordance with the congressional physician's advice, stating so during an interview with Texas-based Fox affiliate KFXK-TV, which he gave from his office on Capitol Hill.
In a statement to Politico on Wednesday afternoon, an aide from Gohmert's office appeared to thank the outlet for informing them of the lawmaker's positive test.
"[...] THANK YOU for letting our office know Louie tested positive for the Coronavirus," the aide wrote. "When you write your story, can you include the fact that Louie requires full staff to be in the office, including three interns, so that 'we could be an example to America on how to open up safely.' When probing the office, you might want to ask how often were people berated for wearing masks."
Gohmert's congressional colleagues have since condemned him for his decision to flout established safety measures and expose others to the virus.
"Too many Republicans have continued to act extraordinarily irresponsibly, including Louie Gohmert," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Wednesday.
Public health experts say that even those who test positive for the virus but are asymptomatic can infect others. Those same experts say wearing a mask — which Gohmert has refused to do — can help prevent that spread.
Gohmert's fellow members of Congress pilloried him for his behavior, saying he had endangered others.
Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) said she was "angry" at Gohmert for his actions, calling him "selfish" and "irresponsible."
"[Y]our political stunt could cost us our lives," Torres tweeted.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), a member of the House Judiciary Committee along with Gohmert, was also up in arms at the news of Gohmert's positive test after he had refused to wear a mask.
"Wear a damn mask!" Jayapal tweeted. "It's not a joke, not a conspiracy theory, not a game. It's serious — it's public health & science. By refusing to consistently wear a mask, Rep. Gohmert & other Republican colleagues have not only put us in harm's way but our staff, families, Capitol workers too."
Other Democratic lawmakers called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to police GOP members like Gohmert, who are refusing to wear a mask.
"I wish @replouiegohmert well, but by refusing to wear a mask during yesterday's hearing and elsewhere, he has put the lives of his colleagues and others others at risk," Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) tweeted. "@GOPLeader, what are you going to do to better protect your coworkers and their staff?"
McCarthy has not yet spoken publicly on the matter.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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