Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) mocked coronavirus concerns by wearing a gas mask on the House floor just days before an infected man from his district died.
“Reviewing the coronavirus supplemental appropriation and preparing to go vote,” he said in a tweet Wednesday before the Senate approved an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill to combat the virus.
In the tweet, Gaetz is seen wearing a gas mask.
Just two days later, Gaetz released a statement saying a death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, had occurred in his district.
“I’m extremely saddened to learn of the first fatality in our district from coronavirus, a Northwest Floridian residing in Santa Rosa County,” he said. “Our prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”
Florida officials announced two deaths from the virus on Friday, including the Santa Rosa County man, as well as two new cases in Broward County. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Florida to seven, according to CBS News.
So far there have been 17 documented deaths from the virus in the U.S., with hundreds more infected across the country. At least 3,000 people have died worldwide. The situation has been further exacerbated by a lack of CDC testing kits for the virus and by an administration that continues to downplay the growing threat.
UPDATE: March 9 ― Gaetz announced Monday that he will self-quarantine for 14 days after he was notified by Conservative Political Action Conference organizers that he came in contact last month with an attendee who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
He tweeted that he is not experiencing symptoms and is awaiting test results. His Washington office will remain closed during the quarantine process.
Hayley Miller contributed reporting.