Lawmakers and Mr. Barr were seated more than six feet apart during the hearing, but reporters spotted an unmasked Mr. Gohmert outside the hearing room exchanging words with Mr. Barr and in proximity to him. A Justice Department spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, said that the attorney general would be tested on Wednesday.
An aide to Mr. Gohmert sent an extraordinary email to Politico after it broke the news of Mr. Gohmert’s diagnosis suggesting that the congressman’s entire staff had been ordered to continue going to work amid the pandemic in order to be an example of how the nation could safely reopen, and that those who wore masks had been berated for doing so. Many lawmakers have directed staff aides to work from home, and instructed those who come in person to wear a mask at all times.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 27, 2020
Should I refinance my mortgage?
- It could be a good idea, because mortgage rates have never been lower. Refinancing requests have pushed mortgage applications to some of the highest levels since 2008, so be prepared to get in line. But defaults are also up, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, be aware that some lenders have tightened their standards.
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
Mr. Gohmert is among a group of House Republicans who have pointedly refused to wear masks in many instances while in the Capitol in recent weeks despite warnings from public health experts and an outbreak in his home state. In an interview from his office later Wednesday, he told KETK TV, a Texas Fox affiliate, that he would isolate for 10 days on the advice of doctors and would wear a mask “religiously” until he was cleared. But he said his diagnosis had vindicated his skepticism about wearing facial coverings to guard against the spread of the virus.
“There are an awful lot of people who think it’s the great thing to do all the time, but I can’t help but think if I hadn’t been wearing a mask so much in the last 10 days or so, I really wonder if I would have gotten it,” Mr. Gohmert said. “Moving the mask around, getting it sitting just right, I am bound to have put some virus on the mask that I sucked in. That is most likely what happened.”
Medical experts overwhelmingly say that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of the virus, though they warn that using your hands to adjust your mask improperly can pose a risk.
Democrats were furious at the news, and both parties spent Wednesday morning scrambling to retrace Mr. Gohmert’s steps. It is a daunting task because Mr. Gohmert is a frequent schmoozer who could have come into close contact with dozens of fellow lawmakers and aides this week alone.
“I’m concerned about the irresponsible behavior of many of the Republicans who have chosen to consistently flout well-established public health guidance,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and a member of the Judiciary Committee. He pleaded with Republicans like Mr. Gohmert to put on masks or go home.
Emily Cochrane and Charlie Savage contributed reporting.