Wisconsin GOP Senator, Critic Of Mask Mandates, Has COVID-19

State Sen. André Jacque Testified At Packed Capitol Hearing Wednesday Unmasked

State Senator Andre Jacque
State Sen. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere. Shawn Johnson/WPR

One of the Wisconsin Legislature’s most conservative lawmakers and a vocal opponent of mask and vaccine mandates has tested positive for COVID-19.

State Sen. André Jacque was at a hospital Monday with pneumonia. It was not clear Tuesday morning if Jacque was admitted.

“Unfortunately, I am now at the hospital with pneumonia, which I have had previously,” Jacque said in a message Monday to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter. The Journal Sentinel first reported Tuesday that Jacque tested positive late last week.

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In an email to WPR, a spokesperson for Jacque shared a message from the senator to a Journal Sentinel reporter. Jacque said he’s uncertain how he contracted COVID-19.

Aside from some fatigue, which “has been a long-standing health concern” for the Republican from De Pere, he was mostly asymptomatic when he tested positive after returning home from Madison, he said in the message.

“My office has been following all protocols and I personally reached out to the limited number of close contacts from last week in case I was positive at the time,” Jacque said.

He said he doesn’t believe any of his staff members are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. However, some lawmakers are expressing concern this week over their potential exposure to the virus.

Jacque testified at a packed Capitol hearing Wednesday during which he didn’t wear a mask.

State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, was present at the hearing, which covered Jacque’s bill that would limit anti-racism and anti-sexism training for government workers. Larson wasn’t aware of Jacque’s positive COVID-19 test until the Journal Sentinel posted its article, he said in a statement.

Committee chairs Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, should have shared the information more quickly, he said.

“They owe it to our neighbors, the staff and Capitol police who were in the room over those seven hours to immediately contact every person who was in the committee room on Wednesday, so they can schedule a COVID test and follow necessary precautions,” he said.

Similarly, Democratic State Rep. Jodi Emerson from Eau Claire was in a hearing with Jacque on Wednesday and didn’t learn of his diagnosis until Tuesday.

“As someone who is immunocompromised, I am at especially high risk from COVID. On behalf of myself and others who are at higher risk, I implore all Wisconsinites to wear masks in public and get vaccinated,” she said in a statement.

Wisconsin is averaging 1,200 new COVID-19 infections per day, according to health officials. It’s a significant increase from late June and early July when the state was seeing fewer than 100 new cases on average. Officials attribute the spike to the highly contagious delta variant.