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State Sen. André Jacque, critic of mask and vaccine mandates, hospitalized with COVID-19

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Sen. André Jacque, R-De Pere, one of the Legislature’s most conservative lawmakers and a vocal opponent of mask and vaccine mandates, tested positive for COVID-19 last week and was at the hospital on Monday with pneumonia.

The positive test and hospital care came after Jacque testified on Wednesday in a packed Capitol hearing room without wearing a mask.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported Tuesday on Jacque’s positive test and that he was at the hospital. The lawmaker from De Pere did not immediately return a text message Tuesday seeking comment on his condition. His spokesperson provided a statement from Jacque dated Monday night.

Jacque said in the email that some of his family members also tested positive for the virus. Jacque, 40, has six children, including an infant.

Jacque said in the email that he was at the hospital with pneumonia, but did not say if he had been admitted. Jacque said he has had pneumonia before but did not immediately say whether it was diagnosed as COVID-19 pneumonia.

Jacque said he was “largely asymptomatic with the exception of fatigue, which I had been feeling more of since the baby arrived. Fatigue has been a long-standing health concern of mine but otherwise I had good health readings when I tested positive.”

His office did not immediately respond to questions about whether Jacque was vaccinated.

Wisconsin, like much of the country, has seen cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations skyrocket in recent weeks due to the more contagious delta variant. On Monday, the seven-day average of positive cases reached its highest level since February. As of Tuesday 89.5% of the state’s ICU hospital beds were in use, the highest level since last November.

Jacque has been outspoken against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including sponsoring bills that would prevent government officials or business owners from requiring proof of vaccination. He, like other Republicans, opposed the statewide mask mandate that the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down in March.

Jacque said that since his positive test, his legislative 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.”

“I do not believe any of my staff or close contacts are experiencing symptoms,” he said.

Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, was at Wednesday’s hearing where Jacque, who was not masked, testified for his bill banning the teaching of critical race theory. The hearing lasted for roughly seven hours. Larson, who wore a mask throughout the hearing, wished Jacque and his family a full recovery.

“I also hope others are spared from his irresponsible, selfish behavior and that any people he exposed to COVID or directly infected are taking precautions to stop the spread of this virus,” Larson said.

He called on the chairs of the two committees that held Wednesday’s hearing to contact everyone who was in the room. Those lawmakers, Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, did not immediately return messages.

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