Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, arrives to hold a news conference on March 7, 2019. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Alaska Rep. Don Young has tested positive for COVID-19, he announced Thursday in a tweet, becoming the latest lawmaker to contract the disease.
Young previously called COVID-19 the “beer virus” and suggested its severity was overblown but said Thursday he was feeling “strong” following his diagnosis.
Young, the longest-serving current member of Congress, is just one of a number of officials who tested positive for the disease after previously downplaying its severity.
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Alaska Rep. Don Young on Thursday announced he’d tested positive for COVID-19 after previously downplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am feeling strong, following proper protocols, working from home in Alaska, and ask for privacy at this time,” the 87-year-old, who is Alaska’s only member of the US House of Representatives, said in a tweet. “May God Bless Alaska.”
As Reuters reported, Young’s infection comes after he previously downplayed the severity of the pandemic, arguing in March that concerns related to the virus were “created primarily by hysteria.”
Related: Trump’s COVID-19 treatment would have cost an estimated $650,000
“I call it the beer virus. How do you like that?” Young, who recently won his bid for reelection, said at the outset of the pandemic in the US, according to Reuters. “Anyway, it attacks us senior citizens. I’m one of you. I still say we have to as a nation, as a state, to go forth with the everyday activities.”
Young, the longest-serving current member of Congress, is one of a number of public officials who downplayed the severity of the pandemic before themselves testing positive. President Donald Trump in October tested positive for the virus and was treated at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, after months of downplaying the pandemic and flouting public health measures meant to curb the spread.
Over the past seven days, approximately 5% of all COVID-19 tests administered in the state have returned a positive result, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There have so far been 22,405 confirmed cases of the disease in Alaska and just under 100 confirmed deaths.
The US has taken a dramatic turn for the worse in recent weeks as health experts for months have warned about a surge of new cases in the fall and winter months. The current uptick in cases comes just weeks before Thanksgiving and the holiday season, as public officials in scores of states from New York to North Dakota implement new orders to stem the spread of the virus.
As Reuters noted, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy also sent a text message on Thursday to residents of the state, warning them about an uptick in cases and strain on hospitals.
“No matter what you believe about the virus, the facts are the facts,” Dunleavy, a Republican, said in a video. “Hospitalizations and sick health-care workers are reaching untenable levels.”
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