Homer was scheduled to take aboard the Air Force I on Wednesday with President Donald Trump to Midland, Texas, where the president raised funds and conducted exploration from an oil rig. Homert tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday morning during a pre-flight screening at the White House, a person familiar with the situation told CNN.
A senior Republican aide told CNN that the test results caused problems on the hill, where “many workers” were ordered to take tests before they could go to meetings and resume operations. Some spend a semester in their offices until they can take the test. Homert’s office notified Republican leaders who notified the House’s medical staff and the protocol submitted for further notification, a GOP aide said.
Homer posted a video on Twitter saying, “The news of my death is much premature,”; and said it was asymptomatic. “I don’t have any of the symptoms that are listed as part of Covid-19, but I probably have the Wuhan virus,” he said.
Several lawmakers said they planned to quarantine in response to Homert’s condition, including Texas Republican Reputation colleague Kay Granger, who sat next to Homert recently.
Rev. Raoul Grialva, an Arizona Democrat who heads the House’s Natural Resources Committee, said he would also isolate himself.
“I am in quarantine until I pass the test, and then again until the results are available. Meanwhile, my work schedule and the lives of my employees are disrupted,” Grialva said in a statement. “It follows from the selfish act of Mr. Homer, who is only one member of Congress.”
Public position criticizing masks
Last month, Homer told CNN that he was not wearing a mask because he had been tested and had not yet had the virus. “But if I get it, you’ll never see me without a mask,” he said.
In an interview with KETK on Wednesday, Homer suggested that he may have contracted the coronavirus by wearing the wrong mask.
“I can’t help but wonder if I keep the mask and keep it in place, what if I might have put some germs or some virus on the mask and inhaled it,” Homert said. He added that he had worn the mask more in the last two weeks than in the last three or four months.
“I can’t help but say that if I hadn’t worn such a mask in the last 10 days, I’m really wondering if I would have gotten it,” Homer added. “You know, by moving the mask, picking it up correctly, we have to put some virus on the mask I sucked. That’s probably what happened.”
Improper wearing of the mask, including touching and adjusting it in public, can lead to the virus. Face masks are most effective when the media does not touch the face or move the mask around its use. But Homert’s claim that such a scenario is “most likely” the way he was infected is questionable, as experts say the virus is mainly spread through human contact.
He said the presence of the virus did not change his views on wearing masks, but now that he has it, he will “religiously wear a mask” if possible, he will come into contact with anyone else.
“I won’t be around anyone for the next 10 days without making sure I have a mask,” Homer said. “Because it’s a real danger. When you have it, you’ll give it to someone else, and that’s when it’s a mask, if that’s the most important thing.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone who tests positive for the virus should completely avoid people, if at all possible, for 10 days if they have no symptoms, otherwise until their symptoms disappear for at least 24 hours. Homer, who has no symptoms, said he would be isolated for 10 days as instructed.
Other members of the Republican House were interrogated using masks
Homert is just one of several conservative Republicans who have donned masks at the Capitol, sometimes causing tensions during committee meetings.
During Tuesday’s hearing with Attorney General Bill Barr, House Judicial Committee Chairman Derry Nadler called on several Republican members to wear their masks.
“I will remind Mr. Jordan, Mr. Biggs and Mr. Johnson that they stop violating committee rules, stop violating committee members’ safety, stop being indifferent by refusing to wear their masks,” the New York Democrat said, referring to the OP. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mike Johnson of Louisiana.
“Is it permissible to take a sip of coffee?” Johnson objected.
Homer was also present at the hearing. He wore a mask during the trial and was not part of Nadler’s reprimand group. However, at one point he was seen without a mask outside the room near Barr.
Barr was tested for the coronavirus on Wednesday, and the test was negative, according to a Justice Department official. The incubation period for the virus can be from two to 14 days.
In another hearing on Wednesday, Zoe Lofgren of California’s Democratic reputation intervened to remind members who were physically present that they should wear a mask.
“He was a member who did not want to wear a mask consistently,” Lofgren said of Homer. “It’s a reminder that it’s very serious, and if you don’t want to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth, please leave the room and we arrange for you to participate remotely.”
New York Democrat Hakem Jeffries, a member of the Democratic Parliament in Hami, also reacted to the news.
“I am concerned about the irresponsible behavior of many Republicans who have decided to consistently follow well-established health care guidelines, perhaps out of loyalty to their boss, Donald Trump, who is the leader of the anti-mask movement in America,” Jeffries told a news conference. “It’s a concern.”
Covid-19 on Capitol Hill
A number of lawmakers praised the virus in the early days of the pandemic, while others had to quarantine after exposure to the virus.
The Chamber has taken precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus, including establishing a form of remote voting for members who are unwilling or unable to travel. Physically present members now vote in alphabetical groups to limit the number of people on the Chamber floor at a time. The members of the Committee also used the technology of virtual meetings for many hearings in the Chamber.
In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell jointly rejected a White House proposal to send resources for rapid testing to the Capitol.
They said they wanted to “continue to direct resources to frontline facilities” fighting the virus, and that lawmakers and workers would use “existing testing protocols created by the Visiting Physician’s Office until these fast technologies become more available.”
Majority leader Stini Hoyer said Wednesday that the House does not currently require testing for lawmakers, but “we are discussing it.”
“I think that’s when we should discuss it again,” Hoyer said.
This story was updated with additional developments on Wednesday.
CNN’s Claire Foran and Evan Perres contributed to this report.