U.S. Rep. Don Young, a Republican lawmaker who made headlines for mocking the seriousness of the pandemic earlier this year, has tested positive for COVID-19.
Young, 87, is Alaska’s only representative, and the longest-serving member of the House. He made the announcement on Twitter, just a day after winning his 25th term in Congress.
“I have tested positive for COVID-19. I am feeling strong, following proper protocols, working from home in Alaska, and ask for privacy at this time,” he wrote.
In March, Young told a group of senior citizens that the coronavirus crisis was being overblown by media outlets.
“They call it the coronavirus. I call it the beer virus. How do you like that?” he said, in a reference to the Corona beer.
“It attacks us senior citizens. I’m one of you. I still say we have to as a nation and state go forth with everyday activities,” he told a crowd of about 80 people during a gathering at a nonprofit that provides services for senior citizens in Palmer, Alaska, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
His comments drew laughter from the crowd, the paper noted.
Young, currently the oldest serving member of Congress, is at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. According to the Centers of Disease Control, eight out of 10 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. have been among adults aged 65 years and older.
It’s not immediately known how or when the congressman contracted the virus.
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Alaska’s senior U.S. senator, Lisa Murkowski tweeted that she was “glad to hear he’s doing well and will be praying for his health and recovery, along with all those impacted by #COVID19,” referring to Young as a “fighter.”
On Thursday, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy urged state residents to take steps to help control the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
According to data released by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services there were 478 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours in Alaska, continuing a trend of daily cases topping 400 infections.