The Gohmert was scheduled to fly aboard Air Force One on Wednesday along with President Donald Trump to Midland, Texas, where the president had a fundraiser and turned into an oil plant. Gohmert tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday morning during pre-flight screening at the White House, a person familiar with the situation told CNN.
A senior Republican aide told CNN that test results caused problems on the Hill where “many staff” were ordered to take tests before they could go to meetings and resume activity. Some are being abducted in their offices until they can be tested. Gohmert’s office notified Republican leaders, who notified House medical staff and the protocol began for further notification, the GOP said.
Gohmert issued a video statement on Twitter where he said, “My death reports are very premature” and said he noted he was asymptomatic. “I have no symptoms that are listed as part of Covid-19, but apparently I have the Wuhan virus,” he said.
Several lawmakers said they planned to self-quarantine in response to Gohmert’s condition, including fellow Texas Republican Kay Granger who sat next to Gohmert on a recent flight.
The Rep. Raul Grijalva, the Arizona Democrat who chairs the House’s Natural Resources Committee, said he will isolate himself.
“I do the autorentina until I take a test and then again until the results come in. Meanwhile, my work schedule and the lives of my employees are disrupted,” Grijalva said in a statement. “This stems from a selfish act by Mr. Gohmert, who is only one member of Congress.”
Public action criticizing masks
Gohmert told CNN last month that he was not wearing a mask because he had been tested and did not yet have the virus. “But if I do, you’ll never see me without a mask,” he said.
In an interview with KETK on Wednesday, Gohmert suggested that he may have contracted coronavirus by wearing his mask incorrectly.
“I can’t ask if we would hold a mask on it and hold it in place, if I had put some germs or some of the virus on the mask and removed it,” Gohmert said. He added that he had been wearing a mask more during the last two weeks than he had in the last three or four months.
“I can’t help but think that if I hadn’t been wearing a mask so much in the last 10 days or so, I really wonder if I want to get it,” Gohmert added. “You know, who’s running the mask, get it right, we’re bound to put some virus on the mask that I’m pulled. That’s likely to have happened.”
Wearing a mask incorrectly, including touching and arranging it in public, can lead to exposure to the virus. Face masks are most effective when wearers do not touch their faces or run the mask around them when using it. But Gohmert’s assertion that such a scenario is “most likely” as he is infected is questionable, as experts say the virus spreads primarily during person-to-person contact.
He said that after the virus does not change his views on wearing masks, but now that he has he “will be wearing a mask religiously” if it is possible that he will come into contact with others.
“I won’t be around anyone for the next 10 days without making sure I have a mask,” Gohmert said. “Because that’s the real danger. Once you have it, give it to someone else, and that’s when it’s a mask if important.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone who tests positive for the virus should completely avoid people, if possible, for 10 days if they have no symptoms and otherwise until their symptoms have gone away. for at least 24 hours. Gohmert, who has no symptoms, said he will isolate for 10 days according to those guidelines.
Other members of the Republican House doubted using masks
Gohmert is just one of several conservative Republicans who pushed back on wearing a mask at the Capitol, sometimes causing tension during committee meetings.
During Tuesday’s hearing with Attorney General Bill Barr, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler urged a handful of Republican members to keep their masks.
“I would like to remind Mr Jordan, Mr Biggs and Mr Johnson to stop violating the committee’s rules, to stop further violating the safety of committee members, to stop holding themselves as not to take thinking of them by refusing to wear their masks, “said the New York Democrat, referring to Rep. GOP. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Mike Johnson of Louisiana.
“Is it allowed to drink a lot of coffee?” Johnson retorted.
Gohmert was also present for the hearing. He wore a mask during the lawsuit and was not included in the group that Nadler denied. He was seen masking outside the room next to Barr at one point. The Justice Department told CNN Wednesday that Barr will be tested.
At another hearing Wednesday, Democratic Republic of California’s Zoe Lofgren interjected to remind members who are physically present that they are required to wear a mask.
“He was a member who didn’t want to wear a mask constantly,” Lofgren said of Gohmert. “It’s a reminder that this is very serious and if you don’t want to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, please leave the room and we’ll arrange to participate remotely.”
Democratic House President Caucus Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, also responded to the news.
“I am concerned about the irresponsible behavior of many of the Republicans who have chosen to consistently cast a well-established public health guide, perhaps out of fealty for their boss, Donald Trump, who is the head of the movement. against the mask in America, “Jeffries said at a news conference. “That’s a concern.”
Covid-19 on Capitol Hill
A number of lawmakers tested positive for the virus in the early days of the pandemic, while others were quarantined after being exposed to the virus.
The House has taken precautions to limit the spread of the virus, including by establishing a form of remote voting for members who do not want or cannot travel. Members who are physically present now vote in alphabetical groups to limit how many people are on the floor of the House at one time. Members also adopted virtual meeting technology for many House sittings.
In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell jointly turned down an offer from the White House to send rapid testing resources to the Capitol complex.
They said they wanted to “keep the direction of resources to the front facilities” fighting the virus, and that lawmakers and staff use “current testing protocols that the Office of the Physician to Attendees will have established until these faster technologies become more widely available. “
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday that the House is not a testing mandate for lawmakers at this point, but “we are discussing this.”
“This is, I think, a moment where we have to discuss it again,” Hoyer said.
This story was updated with additional developments Wednesday.
CNN’s Clare Foran contributed to this report.