Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson attended a Republican fundraising dinner as he awaited the results of a COVID test he had taken on the way to the event. It was positive.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people isolate until they find out the results of COVID tests. Johnson was the third Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to test positive in 24 hours and would have likely suspected he had a solid chance of testing positive.
Johnson took the test on his way to the Ozaukee County Republican Party Oktoberfest Dinner in Mequon on Friday night. He defended his decision to attend the function, where he was one of the featured speakers, knowing he had been exposed to COVID and could have infected others at the crowded event.
He told the Wisconsin Capital Times that he wore a mask until he spoke, and stayed “at least 12 feet from anybody” during his speech.
Johnson announced the following morning that he had tested positive — too late for anyone at the dinner to opt out of interacting with him and risk contracting a potentially deadly virus.
“I’m not sick,” Johnson insisted to the newspaper. “I have no symptoms. I certainly didn’t anticipate testing positive, so there was no reason to quarantine.”
Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he learned of the test results on his drive home from the event.
Earlier that Friday, Judiciary Committee members Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina had both tested positive. Johnson said he decided to get tested when he learned about Lee.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Saturday that the full Senate will not return until Oct. 19 — two weeks later than planned — because the three GOP senators have COVID.
Johnson appeared completely unconcerned about where he might have contracted COVID. “We have a pandemic with a contagious disease,” he told the Capital Times, adding later: “To me, I don’t care where I might have got it from.”
Johnson remains opposed to mandates requiring people to wear masks, saying the public should rely on “individual responsibility,” apparently like the kind he exhibited with his constituents.
Johnson’s office said that he’s now planning to remain in isolation until his doctor clears him.
COVID cases are spiking in Wisconsin with the highest daily cases since the pandemic began and record deaths.
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