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NC Republican House member, a vocal mask opponent, has COVID symptoms

Rep. Keith Kidwell (at right) speaking at the General Assembly earlier this year.

Rep. Keith Kidwell has symptoms associated with COVID-19, one of his Republican House colleagues said Thursday morning.

Kidwell posted on Facebook this week that his wife is hospitalized with COVID. He asked for prayers for her.

Rep. Larry Pittman, a Concord Republican, read a message from Kidwell on the House floor Thursday. “My fever seems to have gone. Just walking to the bathroom is exhausting.”

Kidwell and Pittman could not be reached by phone Thursday.

COVID-19 cases caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant are spiking in the state. The state Department of Health and Human Services reported 5,900 new cases Thursday. One month ago, the state reported a one-day total of just 562 new cases.

Kidwell has been vocally opposed to wearing masks in the pandemic and also opposes mask mandates. During a floor debate last year, he said he would not wear a mask, no matter what the governor said. A Facebook photo of his swearing-in shows him maskless in the height of the pandemic last winter.

At a legislative meeting this year, Kidwell  also questioned COVID-19 vaccines.

Kidwell is also a chief sponsor of House Bill 572, which would prevent the governor from using an executive order to require vaccination. The bill passed the House in May but has not moved in the Senate.

“The governor cannot force one to take an injection of any type into their body,” Kidwell said. “It’s all about freedom, people.”

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