Representative Clay Higgins, Republican of Louisiana and an outspoken coronavirus skeptic who has drafted legislation to make vaccine mandates a federal crime, announced this weekend that he, his wife and his son have Covid-19.
The announcement on Facebook, which did not provide details on symptoms, raised many questions. Mr. Higgins said he and his wife had previously been infected with the coronavirus in January 2020, at the dawn of the pandemic, when testing was not widely available. He did not say whether he had gotten an antibody test to confirm a previous infection, nor has he said whether he has been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“This episode is far more challenging,” he wrote. “It has required all of my devoted energy.”
Mr. Higgins also asserted, without proof, that the Chinese Communist Party created the novel coronavirus as a biological warfare agent, calling it “weaponized.”
Republicans have increasingly stated, with no evidence, that the coronavirus is human-made and leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China — some say intentionally. Although President Biden has ordered an intelligence assessment of the theory, most scientists continue to believe that the virus emerged naturally from animals. A senior virologist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology has strenuously denied the virus was created or leaked from her lab.
Mr. Higgins boasted in May about his opposition to federal mandates to fight the pandemic.
“I do not support mandatory vaccines, mask mandates or any form of required vaccine passport,” he wrote on Facebook. “In fact, I am introducing legislation making mandated or forced compliance with medical procedures a federal crime.”
In May 2020, he questioned the use of face masks, despite widespread agreement among experts that their use was important in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
Some public health experts think that a vaccine mandate could help nudge a greater share of the country toward receiving the inoculation. About 49 percent of people in the United States have been fully vaccinated, according to federal data.
It is unclear how many Republicans in Congress have been vaccinated. The No. 2 House Republican, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, received his first vaccine dose two Sundays ago — a remarkably late date, given that vaccines have been widely available on Capitol Hill for months and that one House Republican and one House Republican-elect have died of Covid-19.
Mr. Scalise had initially said he did not need the vaccine because he had previously been infected, an assertion also made by Senators Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, and Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone age 12 or older — regardless of whether they have had the virus — get a vaccination.