An in-person clash between Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) escalated online Wednesday following the Florida Republican’s refusal to adhere to a reinstated mask mandate to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. House.
Huffman and Donalds got into a yelling match outside the House floor earlier, CNN reported. Huffman, who was wearing a mask, told Donalds that he was selfish for not wearing one.
Donalds reportedly yelled back, “Don’t be worried about me! Mind your business!”
Later, on Twitter, Huffman said he had to take a different elevator because an “unvaccinated, defiantly unmasked GOP colleague doesn’t give a sh*t about anyone but himself.”
Donalds tweeted five minutes later accusing Huffman of patronizing him for being a “free-thinking American.” He confirmed that he’d told him to mind his business.
Donalds is unvaccinated and therefore at a much higher risk of contracting, transmitting and becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.
“No, just for being selfish,” Huffman fired back.
Donalds declared that the “real epidemic in America” was liberals telling people how to think. The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 611,000 people in the U.S. so far.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reimposed the mask mandate Wednesday on the advice of the congressional physician. It followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation Tuesday that all people wear masks when indoors in high-risk areas.
Coronavirus cases have been on the rise again in the U.S., escalated by the delta variant, which makes up more than 80% of cases now, according to the CDC. Though the vast majority of infections are occurring in unvaccinated people, who also account for most of the hospitalizations and deaths, there have been some breakthrough infections in vaccinated people.
The CDC said it updated its guidance for fully vaccinated people to wear masks in high-risk indoor settings due to new evidence on the effects of the delta variant.
Nonetheless, the change to House policy on masks prompted tantrums from multiple Republican lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).