A congressman from South Carolina deleted a Facebook post mocking colleagues for not showing up for a vote amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic — shortly after he tested positive for the virus himself.
Rep. Joe Wilson is now quarantining “through the Christmas holiday,” his spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
The 73-year-old Republican tested positive for the virus Wednesday, soon after he criticized his colleagues in a now-deleted social media and then spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives.
In his deleted Facebook post earlier Wednesday, according to an archived copy shared by The Huffington Post, Wilson accused Democratic colleagues of “avoiding their constitutional duty by voting by proxy.”
The House announced new rules in May allowing lawmakers to vote remotely during the pandemic, as COVID-19 cases began to increase in Congress.
“If millions of Americans can go back to work, so can Members of Congress,” Wilson wrote in his post.
He wore a mask during his House floor speech and it’s unclear whether he came in close contact with other lawmakers.
Wilson and six other representatives are in quarantine after testing positive for the virus, according to NPR.
At least 21 members of Congress — 18 in the House and three in the Senate — have tested positive since November, NPR reports. In all, 38 members of the House and eight members of the Senate have tested positive this year.
Wilson, who has represented South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District since 2001, announced Friday morning on Twitter that he remains symptom free.
“As for the Facebook post,” spokeswoman McLaurine Pinover tells PEOPLE, “this was posted before Rep. Wilson knew he was positive for COVID-19.”
“The test was a precautionary measure so, he had no reason to believe he was positive at the time,” Pineover says. “The photo was deleted to avoid confusion.”
Critics saw it another way.
“I encourage you, your family, and friends to continue following CDC guidelines to stay healthy and safe,” Wilson tweeted Friday, receiving immediate backlash following his comments earlier in the week.
“OH THE HYPOCRISY!” one social media user responded.
Another shot back: "You lie!"
Wilson has created headlines before — such as a notorious outburst during then-President Barack Obama’s joint congressional address on healthcare in 2009, yelling out at Obama: “You lie!”
The remark received audible gasps and was soon after slammed from lawmakers on both sides of the isle.
The late Sen. John McCain said at the time that Wilson’s remark was “totally disrespectful,” while Obama, 59, writes about the incident in his new memoir, A Promised Land.
Obama told CBS Sunday Morning last month that he “wanted to smack” Wilson after his remark but instead decided to “just move on.”
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