Anti-Vaxxer GOP Senator Has COVID-19
Republican state Sen. André Jacque and some family members have tested positive.
Republican state Sen. André Jacque of De Pere, a vocal opponent of mask and vaccine mandates, tested positive for COVID-19 last week and was at the hospital on Monday with pneumonia.
The conservative lawmaker revealed on Monday evening that he and some members of his family tested positive late last week and that he was at the hospital with pneumonia. Jacque, 40, has six children, including an infant.
“The positive test and hospital care came after Jacque testified on Wednesday in a packed Capitol hearing room without wearing a mask,” the Associated Press reported. ‘His office did not immediately respond to questions about whether Jacque was vaccinated.” The Journal Sentinel first reported today on Jacques’ condition.
Like most Republican members of the Legislature, Jacque opposed the statewide mask mandate that the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down in March. He has been an outspoken opponent of COVID-19 vaccine mandates and was a sponsor of bills that would prevent government officials or business owners from requiring proof of vaccination.
Jacque and his family members are among many who’ve gotten sick during a new national and state spike in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant. On Monday, the seven-day average of positive cases in Wisconsin reached its highest level since February, with 660 people hospitalized, the highest level since late January.
State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) attended the same committee hearing and issued a press release blasting Jacque and other Republicans for not wearing masks. “Republicans exposed themselves and the public to the very real and deadly threat they continue to ignore, downplay, and let run rampant,” he charged. “Sen. Andre Jacque presented his bill. He did not wear a mask while speaking or while waiting to speak.” The hearing, which lasted nearly seven hours, was to discuss bills that would ban Wisconsin schools from teaching ideas linked to critical race theory. Jacques authored the bills.
Larson complained that though Jacque learned he was positive on Friday, neither he nor Republican committee co-chairs, Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Jeramy Thiesfeldt, informed all legislators and members of the public who attended. Larson noted he learned about this only after media reports today. “They owe it to our neighbors, the staff, and Capitol police who were in the room over those 7 hours to immediately contact every person who was in the committee room on Wednesday so they can schedule a COVID test and follow necessary precautions.”
Democratic Rep. Sondy Pope of Mt. Horeb, who also attended the committee meeting, says that, “Based on an email received from Rep. Thiesfeldt’s office, it is my understanding his office does not intend to notify attendees of the Committee meeting that took place on Wednesday, citing the fact that they’ve alerted Human Resources and that protocol is being followed.”
“During this public health crisis we, as lawmakers and government leaders, cannot operate on willful ignorance and vague assumptions,” Pope told Urban Milwaukee. “The likelihood that Sen. Jacque was infected at the time is certainly high enough to warrant precautionary actions. I am deeply troubled by the Chair’s laissez faire approach. I hope he realizes sooner rather than later that further inaction could cause human suffering and possibly someone’s life.”
While expressing his hope that Jacque and his family “have a full recovery” Larson added this slap down: “I also hope others are spared from his irresponsible, selfish behavior and that any people he exposed to COVID or directly infected are taking precautions to stop the spread of this virus.”
Jacque served for several years on the Senate Health Committee. Considered one of the Legislature’s most conservative members, he is a strong opponent of abortion whose bio notes he was chosen as the “Pro-Life Wisconsin Legislator of the Year.”
In July on his Facebook page Jacque posted a photo of him attending an indoor meeting of an American Legion group where no one was wearing masks. One person replied, saying: “No masks. No distancing. Still mocking the virus… And how many of these elderly folks did you infect? SHAME ON YOU, ‘SENATOR.'”