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Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) on Wednesday released a video statement about his coronavirus diagnosis, suggesting without evidence that wearing a mask may have contributed to testing positive.

The big picture: The congressman, who has largely been resistant to wearing a mask around Capitol Hill, said that he "can't help but wonder" if adjusting his mask "put some germs in" it. While the CDC has said it is possible that coronavirus can be transmitted after touching an infected surface, it "is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

  • In fact, virologists have said that "direct contact with people has the highest likelihood of getting infected" — especially those who are asymptomatic, like Gohmert.

The state of play: Gohmert went back to his office at the Rayburn House Office Building to inform his staff in person that he had been infected, per Politico.

  • His office practices were also sharply criticized by an unnamed aide in an email to Politico's Jake Sherman, who first broke the story about his diagnosis.
  • "When you write your story, can you include the fact that Louie requires full staff to be in the office, including three interns, so that 'we could be an example to America on how to open up safely.' When probing the office, you might want to ask how often were people berated for wearing masks," the aide said.

Go deeper

Nov 5, 2020 - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 new COVID-19 cases for first time

Data: Covid Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. reported 103,087 new daily coronavirus infections on Wednesday, setting a single-day record for cases, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

Why it matters: This is the first time the U.S. has reported over 100,000 new cases in a single day — a reminder of the high stakes of the election as votes continue to be tabulated.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Nov 4, 2020 - World

Italy imposes regional lockdown as coronavirus cases spike

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (c) made the call. Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Much of Italy will be placed under a strict lockdown as of Friday in the most drastic steps the country has taken to fight the coronavirus since it led the world into lockdown nearly eight months ago.

The big picture: Italy managed to keep the spread of the virus largely under control for months after a brutal first wave. But like much of Europe, it's currently recording unprecedented daily case counts and scrambling to avoid a return to overcrowded hospitals and climbing death tolls in the coming weeks.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 4, 2020 - Health

Air pollution connected to higher COVID-19 death rates

Smokestacks in Florida. Photo: Getty Images

A new study of more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. finds a correlation between higher levels of particulate air pollution and higher death rates from COVID-19.

Why it matters: COVID-19 may be caused by the novel coronavirus, but the outcome of an infection is influenced by everything from age to race to the environment. Understanding the connection between disease and pollution can help us address those risks going forward.