Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) has tested positive for a COVID-19 breakthrough infection after defying the House of Representatives’ mask mandate and filing a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over a resulting $500 fine for going maskless.
On Thursday, Norman tweeted, “After experiencing minor symptoms this morning, I sought a COVID-19 test and was just informed the test results were positive. Thankfully, I have been fully vaccinated and my symptoms remain mild.” He added that he will work virtually while he is in “quarantine” for 10 days. (“Quarantine” refers to restrictions for people who might be sick. Those who are known to be infected should go into “isolation.”)
Just last week, Norman, along with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), filed a lawsuit against Pelosi, claiming the $500 fines they each faced for not wearing masks on the House floor in May were unconstitutional. The trio had appealed the fines in June, but on July 20, the US House Ethics Committee announced that their appeals had failed.
The fines were ordered after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance saying that fully vaccinated people could go maskless in most indoor settings. However, the guidance was widely criticized, and Congress’ attending physician announced that masking recommendations would remain unchanged for lawmakers. The CDC has since reversed its masking guidance in the face of the current delta-fueled surge in COVID-19 cases and the risk that the very small proportion of vaccinated people who develop a breakthrough infection may still transmit the virus.
In the lawsuit, however, lawyers for Norman, Greene, and Massie claimed that the mask requirement “was an attempt to prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, medicine, and science, despite a deep divide over these issues of opinion,” according to the Associated Press. They added, “It has been used to force Plaintiffs and other members of the minority party to be instruments for fostering public adherence to this ideological point of view that Plaintiffs find unacceptable.”
In a July 28 tweet, Norman claimed that “government-imposed mask mandates represent a harmful combination of virtue signaling and unjustified fear.”
Norman’s breakthrough infection follows news earlier this week that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had also tested positive for a breakthrough infection. His infection developed following a maskless gathering aboard a boat owned by Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.).