Gohmer was scheduled to board an Air Force plane to Midland, Texas, with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, where the president hired a wealthy man and visited an oil rig. Gohmert tested positive for coronovirus Wednesday morning during a pre-flight screening at the White House, a person told CNN when he was familiar with the situation.
A senior Republican aide told CNN that the test results caused problems on the Hill where “too many employees” were ordered to undergo tests before going to meetings and resuming activity. Some sit in their offices until they are tested. Gohmer’s office informed Republican leaders, who informed the House medical staff, and kicked off the protocol for further notification, the GOP aide said.
Gohmert released a video statement on Twitter, saying, “The news of my demise is huge ahead of time”, saying that he is asymptomatic. “I don’t have any symptoms that are listed as part of Kovid-19, but obviously I have the Wuhan virus,” he said.
Several lawmakers said they planned self-quarantine in response to Gohert’s situation, including that of fellow Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger who sat in a recent flight near Gohart.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who chairs the House Natural Resource Committee, said he would dissociate himself.
“I am self-extinguishing until I take the exam and then the results come back. In the meantime, my work time and the lives of my employees are interrupted,” Grazalva said in a statement. “It stems from a selfish act by Mr. Gohart, who is just one member of Congress.”
A public view criticizing the mask
Gohmert told CNN last month that he did not wear a mask because he was tested and did not yet have the virus. “But if I get it, you’ll never see me without a mask,” he said.
In an interview with KETK on Wednesday, Gohmert suggested that he may have contracted coronovirus by incorrectly wearing a mask.
“I can’t help, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I put some germs or some virus in the mask, and took a breath,” Gohmert said. He said that in the last three or four months he has been wearing a mask during the last two weeks.
“I can’t think that if I had worn so much mask in the last 10 days, I would be really surprised that I would have got it,” Goehmert said. “You know, turning the mask around, it’s going right, we’re bound to put some virus in the mask that I’ve sucked. It’s most likely what happened.”
Wearing a mask in the wrong way, including touching and adjusting it in public, can come in contact with the virus. Face masks are most effective when wearers do not touch their face or move the mask around while using it. But Gohmert’s claim that such a scenario is “most likely” how he was infected is questionable, as experts say the virus spreads mainly during person-to-person contact.
He said that the virus does not change his views on wearing masks, but all he has now is that he will be “religiously wearing masks” if it is possible that he will come in contact with someone else.
“I wouldn’t be around anyone for the next 10 days without making sure I had a mask,” Gohmert said. “Because it’s a real danger. Once you have it, it’s giving to someone else, and when a mask is most important.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone testing positive for the virus should avoid people altogether, if possible, for 10 days if they have no symptoms and unless otherwise their symptoms Did not last for at least 24 hours. Gohart, who has no symptoms, said he would be separated for 10 days according to those guidelines.
Other Republican House members have questioned using masks
Gohmert is one of only several conservative Republicans who have pushed back on wearing masks in 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 put on their masks.
“I will remind Mr. Jordan, Mr. Biggs and Mr. Johnson to stop violating committee rules, to violate the safety of committee members, to hold themselves back by not refusing to wear their masks.” , “The New York Democrat said referring to the GOP Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mike Johnson of Louisiana.
“Is it lawful to drink a sip of coffee?” Johnson countered.
Gohart was also present at the hearing. He wore a mask during the proceedings and Nadler was not included in the reprimanding group. However, he was seen masked outside the room at one point near the barre. The Justice Department told CNN on Wednesday that Barr would be tested.
In another hearing on Wednesday, California Democratic Rep. Jo Lofgren intervened to remind members who are physically present that they are required to wear masks.
“He was a member who was not willing to wear a mask consistently,” Lofgren said of Gohart. “This is a reminder that this is very serious and if you are not ready to wear a mask that covers your nose and your mouth, please leave the room and we will arrange for you to participate remotely. “
House Democratic Caucus President Hakeem Geoffreys, a New York Democrat, also responded to the news.
“I am concerned about the irresponsible behavior of many Republicans who have consistently chosen to guide well-established public health, perhaps by their boss Donald Trump, who heads the anti-mask movement in America.” Said at a press conference. “This is a concern.”
Kovid-19 on Capitol Hill
Many MPs tested positive for the virus early in the epidemic, while others had to leave after being exposed to the virus.
The House took precautions to limit the spread of the virus, including a form of remote voting for members unwilling or unable to travel. Physically present members now vote in alphabetical groups to limit how many people are on the house floor at the same time. Members have also adopted virtual meeting techniques for many House hearings.
In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined a White House resolution to jointly send rapid-testing resources to the Capitol complex.
He said he wanted “resources directed to front-line facilities” while fighting the virus, and that lawmakers and staff would “use current testing protocols” that the attending physician’s office has implemented since Until these accelerated techniques become more widely available. . “
Leading House Leader Stany Hoyer said on Wednesday that the House is not mandating a test for MPs at this point, but “we’re discussing that.”
“This is, I think, a moment where we should discuss it again,” Hoyer said.
This story has been updated with additional developments on Wednesday.
CNN’s Claire Foran contributed to this report.