Nov 12, 2020 - Health

87-year-old Rep. Don Young tests positive for COVID

Don Young (Alaska)

Young arrives for a news conference outside of the Capitol in March 2019. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the oldest member of Congress, tweeted Thursday that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Why it matters: At 87 years old, Young is part of the age group at "greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19," according to the CDC.

  • Young was elected to his 25th term earlier this month, per AP.
  • He told Alaska Public Media in September that while he wears a mask, he did not require people attending his campaign events to do so. "Our nation should be responsible for one’s actions," he said at the time.

What he's saying: "I have tested positive for COVID-19. I am feeling strong, following proper protocols, working from home in Alaska, and ask for privacy at this time," Young tweeted Thursday. "May God Bless Alaska."

Flashback: Young initially downplayed the pandemic, joking in March that the coronavirus was the "beer virus," per Alaska Public Media. He later said he did not fully understand the severity of the pandemic.

The big picture: States across the U.S., including Alaska, are seeing surges in new infections.

  • Earlier on Thursday, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) told residents in a video that "like the rest of the nation, Alaska’s COVID-19 status is now in the red.”
  • Dunleavy added: “No matter what you believe about the virus, the facts are the facts: Hospitalizations and sick health care workers are reaching untenable levels. ... We must act together now, while we still have choices.”
  • Alaska recorded at least 477 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, per the state's Department of Health and Social Services. At least 100 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

Go deeper: Coronavirus cases rise by 40%

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