Contracting COVID-19 isn’t stopping U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL) from protesting mask mandates, even as his home state has run out of ICU beds in the latest pandemic wave.
“I just don’t believe in mandates from the federal government,” Moore told The Daily Beast from his farm in Enterprise, Alabama on Saturday. “If I died of COVID yesterday, I wouldn’t want to force my beliefs and opinions on anyone.”
Moore, an outspoken critic of mask mandates in the U.S. Capitol, announced Friday night that he and his wife had both contracted COVID-19. He said Saturday morning that he had experienced a fever, sore throat, and exhaustion, and was recovering at home.
Three weeks earlier, he was loudly protesting Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s requirement that masks be worn inside the House of Representatives, calling her a “tyrant” and insisting on Facebook that he “will NOT comply.”
In a now painfully ironic video posted to Twitter July 29, Moore bemoaned the House mandate, saying, “The Senate is wide open, but on the House side COVID is running rampant, according to Nancy Pelosi.”
“We can’t figure out, as you travel to the Senate, where the COVID virus stops,” he quipped. (In another tweet about vaccine mandates, he wrote: “This isn’t about science - it’s about government control.”)
Asked Saturday if his brush with the virus had changed his opinion about wearing masks at the Capitol, Moore said he didn’t know what he would do, but added that he still was not convinced masks worked.
“I’ll have the antibodies and I’ll already have had [COVID],” he said about returning to the House. “I’m not sure that me wearing a mask, whether you think I should or not, really is going to help anybody.” (He also suggested that wearing a mask only protected the wearer, which is incorrect; studies show that mask-wearing prevents the spread of disease by protecting both the wearer and those around them.)
Moore’s home state, meanwhile, was dealing with a devastating surge of COVID cases that left its hospitals without a single open ICU bed last week. The Alabama Department of Public Health requested federal assistance this week to keep up with the surging number of severely ill patients, and at least one hospital has asked for FEMA to step in. Gov. Kay Ivey reinstated a state of emergency last week.
“It’s a devastating time right now,” Douglas Brewer, CEO of Whitfield Regional Hospital, told the Montgomery Advertiser. “I think most hospitals will tell you we’re seeing it get worse by the hour.”
The state also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, hovering around 35 percent.
Moore refused to answer questions about whether or not he was vaccinated, but did say the vaccines were “untested,” and that we “don't know a lot about them yet.” (The COVID vaccine went through all the same testing steps as most other vaccines.)
Moore has also scoffed at the idea of the government going door-to-door to offer the shot, calling it “another step by the Biden administration to transform the federal government into ‘Big Brother.’”
“We have the responsibility to kill any scheme from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that gives more power to an out-of-control federal government and endangers our fundamental liberties,” he told Yellowhammer News in July. (The congressman took a more tempered tone in his statement Saturday, suggesting supporters talk with their doctors and make “an informed decision about the prevention and treatment that is best for you.”)
While Moore claimed Saturday that he had few serious symptoms from the virus, there was one regrettable side effect: Because he needed to quarantine, he could no longer attend former President Donald Trump’s rally in Cullman, Alabama that day.
“However rest assured I will be tuned in watching one of the most beloved presidents in my lifetime,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “#MAGA.”