Congressman Don Young announced on Thursday that he tested positive for COVID-19.
At 87 years old, Young is the oldest serving congressman in the House of Representatives and the longest-serving member of the Republican Party after serving 24 terms representing the state of Alaska. He has been in office since the Nixon administration.
Young won his 25th term last week after successfully defending his seat in Alaska’s largest congressional district against independent challenger Alyse Galvin.
In his statement announcing his positive diagnosis, the congressman tweeted: “I feel strong, follow proper protocols, work from home in Alaska and ask for privacy at this time. May God bless Alaska”.
Young did not specify how severe his symptoms or condition are, but given his age, he qualifies for the high-risk category of critically ill patients.
Once infected with COVID-19, people over 85 are 630 times more likely to die from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
He is the youngest Congressman to have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.
In an effort to contain the spread, Parliament passed pandemic-era rules that allow legislators to vote remotely. However, almost all Republicans refused to use this system.
Young was supported in the last election by President Donald Trump. Young is one of dozens of prominent Trump-backed Republicans who tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
Trump campaign consultant Corey Lewandowski also announced on Thursday that he had been infected with the virus after attending an election night party at the White House.
Several other guests – including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Housing Secretary Ben Carson, Trump Campaign Legal Advisor David Bossie and White House Political Director Brian Jack – also tested positive for the corona virus after attending the event.
Washington Newsday contacted Young’s office to comment, but heard no response prior to publication.
Alaska recently saw a rapid increase in coronavirus cases across the state.
Just before Young made his announcement, Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy called on Alascans to help reduce infection over the next three weeks. Face masks and social distancing are now mandatory for all workers and visitors to state construction sites.
On Wednesday, the state reported 496 new daily cases – a sharp increase from Alaska’s coronavirus readings a month ago. Before October, the highest daily case count in the state was 234 cases on July 26.
By November 12, Alaska reported 21,211 confirmed cases and 90 deaths, according to the New York Times.