Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, the dean of the House as its longest-serving member, revealed in a tweet that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I have tested positive for COVID-19. I am feeling strong, following proper protocols, working from home in Alaska, and ask for privacy at this time. May God Bless Alaska,” Young tweeted.
Young, known for his salty and gruff demeanor, is also the oldest member of the House at 87, putting him at high risk for COVID complications.
The octogenarian was reelected to a 25th term in Congress last week. For a time, Young was chairperson of the once-powerful House Transportation Committee, when earmarks made you king. He directed money home for projects, perhaps most famously one connecting mainland Alaska to a small island of 50 people and an airport that became dubbed “the Bridge to Nowhere.”
Young downplayed the coronavirus in its early days, calling it the “beer virus,” a seeming reference to Corona beer.
“It attacks us senior citizens. I’m one of you. I still say we have to as a nation and state go forth with everyday activities,” he said back in March.
After the virus spread to Alaska, however, Young no longer mocked it, but he still held in-person fundraising events and didn’t require attendees to wear masks.
“I don’t require anything,” he told Alaska Public Media in September. “If you want to wear a mask when they come to my campaign events, that’s their business. That’s self-responsibility. Our nation should be responsible for one’s actions.”