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Texas Republican Rep. Gohmert Tests Positive For Coronavirus After Rebuffing Masks

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, tested positive for the coronavirus during a routine screening at the White House.
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U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, tested positive for the coronavirus during a routine screening at the White House.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who during the pandemic has repeatedly refused to wear a mask in public, tested positive for the coronavirus.

His positive test was caught during a routine screening at the White House, Gohmert said. He was slated to attend a trip to West Texas with President Trump.

"Before you go anywhere with the president or have a meeting with the president we are always tested, and they have a real quick test and the quick test was positive," Gohmert said in an interview with north Texas TV affiliate, KETK.

Gohmert confirmed the news from his Capitol Hill office, raising further concerns that he returned there infected while both chambers of Congress are in session. Gohmert said he would later quarantine from home for 10 days, per advice from the office of Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician to Congress.

The news sent shock waves through the Capitol on Wednesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday evening that all members of Congress and staff will be required to wear masks in the House chamber except when recognized to speak.

"I can guarantee Gohmert has heard from the medical community, he's talked to Dr. Monahan or others, who said immediately quarantine yourself," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a call with reporters. "He did not do that; he put others at risk."

Politico first reported the development earlier Wednesday. Several aides for the House Judiciary Committee confirmed the report, saying they were informed and working with the attending physician on the next steps.

Gohmert had participatedin Tuesday's high-profile House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr, and was seen without a mask near Barr and others. A Justice Department spokeswoman said Barr will be tested for the illness on Wednesday.

"Too many Republicans have continued to act extraordinarily irresponsibly, including Louie Gohmert. Louie Gohmert ought to quarantine himself right now," Hoyer said.

In March, Gohmert revealed he was one of several Republicans potentially exposed to the virus at the Conservative Political Action Conference. While many of his colleagues quarantined, he refused.

Gohmert would mark the 11th member of Congress to test positive for the coronavirus. More than 60 Capitol Hill workers have also been exposed.

NPR's Carrie Johnson contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.
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