Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), one of three Republican senators known to have tested positive for COVID-19, said that he was tested for the novel coronavirus just before attending a fundraising dinner for a local chapter of the Republican Party.
According to the Madison Capital Times, Johnson said he was tested “on the way” to the Ozaukee County Republican Party Oktoberfest Dinner on Friday evening, which was after it was announced that President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, top White House advisor Hope Hicks, and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tested positive.
On Saturday, Johnson became at least the third GOP senator to recently receive a COVID-19 diagnosis. It is currently unclear whether or not Johnson actually received his positive diagnosis before he attended the event or whether he was made aware of it afterwards. In Johnson’s Saturday morning announcement, the two-term Wisconsin Republican senator said he tested positive on Friday.
Regardless of the official timeline on Johnson’s knowledge of his status, he immediately attended the event after taking the test and, when asked if he was told to self-quarantine following the test, said, there was “no reason to do so.”
“I’m not sick,” Johnson told the outlet. “I have no symptoms. I certainly didn’t anticipate testing positive, so there was no reason to quarantine.”
Johnson added that he wore a mask until his speech and kept a distance of “at least 12 feet from anybody as [he was] speaking.”
The senator’s decision to quickly attend an event with multiple individuals after taking the test flies directly in the face of guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the Coronavirus.
“If you do get tested, you should self-quarantine/isolate at home pending test results and follow the advice of your health care provider or a public health professional,” the agency advises.
Johnson went on to convey an optimistic message about his diagnosis.
“I don’t blame anybody for this,” he told the Capital Times. “We have a pandemic with a contagious disease.”
Many commentators quickly found fault with the GOP senator’s behavior.
Ron Johnson appears to have attended Oktoberfest *last night* after taking a COVID test.
If you’ve ever been tested, you know they say to ISOLATE until you have results.
— John Buysse (@JohnBuysse) October 3, 2020
RonJon tested and then went to a mass gathering anyway. Wrap your head around that. https://t.co/9CfJsPfTb6
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) October 3, 2020
— Dr. Dena Grayson (@DrDenaGrayson) October 3, 2020
Many others–including a New York Times reporter–initially took the Capital Times story to mean that Johnson was aware of his diagnosis before attending the event. That determination, however, as noted above, is only speculative at best at the present time.
NEW: Sen. Ron Johnson learned he tested positive for COVID-19 on his way to a campaign events and STILL attended the event — knowingly exposing his constituents to the deadly virus. https://t.co/HoKVrC8Qv4
— RC Di Mezzo (@rcdimezzo) October 3, 2020
Q: What kind of public servant has reason to believe he’s tested positive for #COVID19 but goes to a crowded indoor event regardless?
A: America’s dumbest, most irresponsible & worst Senator, all rolled into one. https://t.co/8A1AxLnebL
— Dan Kohl (@DanKohlWI) October 3, 2020
Law&Crime reached out to the event space for comment and clarification on this story, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
Efforts to obtain comment from Johnson’s office prior to press time were also unsuccessful.
[image via Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images]
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