GOP lawmaker cites ‘herd immunity’ when asked why he’s without face mask

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) was spotted at the Capitol without a face mask on Friday, telling CNN there’s “just no need.”

According to CNN’s Manu Raju, Yoho was seen without a mask around the Capitol and on the House floor ahead of a vote on Democrats’ most recent coronavirus stimulus package. 

When asked by Raju why he chose to go without a face mask, Yoho responded that there’s “no need” and also cited “herd immunity.”

“Viruses do what viruses do,” Yoho said. “I think the only way you’re going to get it is to get exposed.” 

When asked for comment about going without a mask, Yoho’s office told The Hill the congressman had no further comment at this time. 

Herd immunity has been a controversial concept during the coronavirus pandemic. It refers to the idea of people becoming indirectly protected from viruses as the larger population develops immunity through vaccines or recovering from infection.

The approach of herd immunity has been used by Sweden during the coronavirus pandemic, which has kept many businesses open and encouraged measures like social distancing and hand-washing to prevent the virus spread. Some have heralded the idea, while others say the country’s high mortality rate puts the practice into question. 

Several other lawmakers chose not to wear masks at the Capitol on Friday, so long as they were able to maintain distance from other lawmakers and aides. President Trump has frequently gone without a face mask during the pandemic, as have other top officials. 

Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he was not wearing a mask because he recovered from COVID-19

“I’ve already had the virus, so I can’t get it again, and I can’t give it to anybody,” he said. When reporters asked him about reports that a newer strain of the virus could allow people to get reinfected, Paul responded, “That’s not true.”

“I can’t get it again, nor can I transmit it,” he continued. “So of all the people you’ll meet here, I’m about the only safe person in Washington.”

Updated: 8:16 p.m.

Tags Capitol Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump face masks herd immunity House Personal protective equipment PPE Rand Paul Ted Yoho

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