U.S. representative and walking self-parody Louie Gohmert, one of the many mouth-breathing conservative dolts who have mostly refused to wear a mask during the novel coronavirus pandemic, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday. He blames the mask.
Public health experts, doctors, and federal, state, and local authorities have all begged people to please just wear the goddamn masks. But Gohmert has been seen swaggering around his D.C. offices in the cramped Rayburn building, the House floor, committee chambers, and myriad other locations in or around the Capitol while only sporadically wearing a mask and not observing social distancing. The representative has put forth the ridiculous justification that he is a very important person who receives regular virus tests, and that somehow absolves him of responsibility. (In late June, Gohmert declined to tell CNN the date of his most recent test.)
The White House has floated the same excuse. A less charitable explanation is that Gohmert is a morally bankrupt jerk who prioritizes hypermasculine political posturing to the considerable swathe of Republicans still opposed to mask mandates above the good of his fellow human beings.
Per Politico, Gohmert’s positive test result came back during routine a White House screening before he boarded a scheduled flight to Texas with Donald Trump later in the day. According to ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, he then promptly did what any oblivious jackass would do: seize the opportunity to expose his staff to the virus again by notifying them in person.
One of Gohmert’s aides told Politico that staff had been regularly berated for wearing masks at work and the representative requires his entire staff to stay in the office so they “could be an example to America on how to open up safely.” In an interview with NBC affiliate KETK—still inside his D.C. office—Gohmert suggested that he might have been safer had he not worn the mask at all, because maybe it acted as a virus prison with no escape routes but his mouth.
“It’s really ironic, because, you know, a lot of people have made a big deal out of my not wearing a mask a whole lot,” Gohmert told KETK. “But in the last week or two, I have worn a mask more than I have in the whole last four months.”
“... I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on, and keeping it in place, if I might have put some germs, some virus, some of the virus onto the mask and breathed it in,” he added. “I don’t know.”
Later in the interview, Gohmert reiterated that “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 would have gotten it. But I know, you know, moving the mask around, getting it to sit just right, I’m bound to have put some, uh, some virus in the mask that I sucked in. That’s most likely what happened.”
The representative told KETK that he would self-quarantine for 10 days and “religiously wearing a mask” whenever he is in contact with other individuals. When asked whether his position on masks had changed, Gohmert responded “this used to be what was called a free country and people could do what they thought was appropriate.” He added that people who have tested positive for the coronavirus should wear a mask and “preferably” stay out of public spaces. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say those with positive test results should not be in public or leave their home for any reason other than seeking emergency medical care.)
It doesn’t end there. Gohmert, not wearing a mask, was in close contact with Attorney General Bill Barr, also not wearing a mask, on Tuesday during congressional hearings about Barr’s repeated abuses of power.
According to CNN, a senior GOP aide said that “a lot” of congressional staffers were ordered to get tested for the virus before resuming work, with some hunkering down in their offices. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN that the House is considering whether to make testing mandatory for all representatives.
Update: 7/29/2020 at 7:20 p.m. ET: This story failed to note that according to Politico, Gohmert only went to inform his staff after Politico reported on his positive test results.
Yet another layer of cringe: Roll Call reported Gohmert lives and sleeps in his office in D.C., raising additional concerns about the extent of other members’ and staffers’ exposure and about just where he will self-quarantine. (This likely also explains why Gohmert lingered in his office throughout the day after receiving his positive test results—he had no other place to go.) However, Gohmert told Fox host Sean Hannity that he will be returning to Texas without the use of a plane or train, according to Roll Call.