Throughout the pandemic that's killed over 550 thousand Americans, prominent Republican lawmakers and pundits have blasted basic safety guidelines as an encroachment to liberty—especially when it comes to masks.
As President, Donald Trump frequently dismissed the need for facial coverings, even after his own CDC officials concluded that masks were effective in slowing the spread among asymptomatic carriers. Trump's most vocal supporters in Congress continue to echo that disdain for masks. For example, Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) boasted about a maskless gala for New York's Young Republicans late last year.
Now, Jason Watts—a treasurer for a committee of the Michigan Republican Party—is railing against his colleagues, after catching the virus at a 70-person party meeting he was required to attend.
Watts told Michigan Live—who first reported the story—that only three out of the 70 attendees were wearing masks at the meeting, which was held in Travelers Café and Pub.
After hearing of multiple people coming down with virus symptoms who'd attended the meeting, Watts too later tested positive.
Recovering in a hospital two weeks after the meeting, he excoriated his party for its messaging on safety guidelines:
"A mask shouldn't have a political party. A vaccine shouldn't have a political party, but we've conjured these things to have these connotations. People are getting sick. And to put these connotations on these things does nobody any good."
Others joined him in his rebuke of the party's recklessness—with some encouraging him to leave the party completely.
I've got a suggestion for this guy who seems like he might have more than two brain cells to rub together. LEAVE th… https://t.co/redYEq6IFz— Screaming into the void (@Screaming into the void)1618409162.0
What I've never understood? Once you figure out they’re willing to kill you 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝒂 𝒑𝒐𝒊𝒏𝒕, why stay? https://t.co/9A10MkonAd— Nick Charalambides (@Nick Charalambides)1618488326.0
Might be the one time I feel sorry for a GOPr. This really was an assault on him. He needs to quit his party becaus… https://t.co/pXh8hnId7K— Femme Malheureuse (@Femme Malheureuse)1618402097.0
If he had switched parties he wouldn't be where he is now. https://t.co/81TKdskylV— Gonzog8tr (@Gonzog8tr)1618399700.0
@thedailybeast How can he stay in the @gop!?— Fiery Progressive (@Fiery Progressive)1618403789.0
Many said Republicans don't seem concerned about the virus until they catch it themselves.
@washingtonpost They never learn til it happens to them— Diane Smith (@Diane Smith)1618582115.0
@washingtonpost These people never think anything is a problem unless it affects them personally.— Peggy Hill (@Peggy Hill)1618571051.0
@washingtonpost It’s always just “political” until it happens to you. Sorry GOP. You deserve every moment of karma.— Shoney’s #1 Customer (@Shoney’s #1 Customer)1618573812.0
@washingtonpost The party of “I don’t care until it happens to me”.— Ҡгіʂlyn🌛🌝🌜 (@Ҡгіʂlyn🌛🌝🌜)1618570831.0
It's not yet clear if the dinner was a super spreader event, according to a public health official in the state.